A quick follow-up to yesterday's post. I had originally sent an email to the phone provider questioning their repeated "don't forget to send your defective phone back" even before I had my phone. While I never got an answer to that email, I did get a phone call from someone who wanted to tell me there would be no problem as long as I sent everything back when I had it all. Needless to say, he got the full story. I admit he was very apologetic for all the mixups. Shortly thereafter, I got an automatic email asking me to take a survey about my experiences with the email response.
Since the poll specifically said to answer with respect to the email response, and not to phone calls, I fear they didn't fare well.
And, a follow up to my quickie hints for Track Changes. One frequent visitor to this blog, Elizabeth Spann Craig, tweeted about another, more detailed explanation. You can find it here.
My writing endeavors have been focused on editing, and for the last two days, it's been one of my earlier books. It's kind of nice to be able to go back and fix things—I don't think any author is ever 100% satisfied that the book is perfect. But beyond things like being able to apply everything I've learned after writing many more books, I'm trying to decide whether to leave the book set in an early 2000's time frame, or to update it to be current.
Normally, there's quite a lag time between submitting a book, accepting a contract, and having the book hit the shelves. We're probably talking several years between writing and publication. But with being able to publish these books myself, they can be current (at least for a few weeks!).
Technology changes rapidly. So, as I'm reading, I see things that are definitely out of date. People used pagers. Cell phones were relatively new. There was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter. No smart phones.
So, as I'm reading, I'm wondering if I should leave much of the technology as it was when I wrote the book, with an introductory "disclaimer" to orient readers in time, or if I should try to bring it up to date.
My heroine, Sarah, is on the verge of bankruptcy, so I can use the 'can't afford it' argument for many of these differences. I can justify that she and her late husband had put everything they owned into their business, with nothing left over for frills like updating their old computer. Paying for broadband would strain her budget.
But will a reader accept that she's not going to be using on-line shopping, bill paying, and spending all sorts of time on a cell phone? Even with an introduction reminding readers that they are stepping back in time—a few steps, to be sure, but the way technology changes, will they remember as they read, or keep wondering why Sarah doesn't have social network friends to help her thorough her ordeal.
And then there's music. I consulted my kids, who were Sarah's age when I wrote the book, asking what Sarah would likely listen to when she was happy. As I'm editing, I see she's picked out a U2 CD. Is that totally out of date? What's the 2011 of U2?
Or pay phones. Do they still exist? The hero, Randy, is a cop, and the technology used in his field has skyrocketed forward as well. I need to place a suspect somewhere, and having Randy able to trace an incoming call to a pay phone at an Interstate rest stop was necessary for the plot. Do I have to change it to a disposable cell phone with a GPS?
It's hard enough to write "current" in a new manuscript. Going back and dealing with something that's out of date presents another set of challenges.
What are your thoughts about reading books that aren't up to the minute? Can you remember you're reading about something set five to ten years ago, and accept how different things were then?