One of the many wonderful things about being a published author is having the support of a team of people who help me become a better writer.

In the past week, I’ve worked on agent’s edits for my third book, Back Home at Firefly Lake (March 2018), and copyeditor’s queries for the second book, Summer on Firefly Lake (July 25, 2017). Once again, I’m grateful for the often unsung publishing professionals who work with authors to make the reader experience the best it can be.

In Back Home at Firefly Lake, my agent pointed out that there were four blond characters in the first two pages. More popped up as the story progressed. Since the book is set in Vermont, it’s unlikely there would be that many blonds in one small New England town. Back to the editing cave I went with the editorial equivalent of hair dye.

Even though I supposedly write in US English, my agent also picked up multiple instances of British usage. In addition, there were several occasions where characters were standing without having first arisen from where they were sitting, as well as a building with an architecturally suspect staircase.  

In Summer on Firefly Lake, most of these problems, including a dog that magically appeared in a character’s arms without ever having been introduced into the scene, had been resolved in previous drafts. At copyedit stage, though, I’m always reminded of my erratic comma use and unfortunate devotion to sentence fragments. There was also a character wearing a “vest top” and doing the “weekly shop” —more vestiges of my beloved British English.

As an author, I put bits of myself into everything I write. While my life experience shapes my characters and their stories, it also influences how I construct sentences and the individual words I use. And, like all writers, when I get too close to a manuscript, I don’t see the often-funny inconsistencies so evident to those reading it for the first time.

As for those blond characters? I’m a brunette who always hankered after fair hair.

When I was a teen, I tried lemon juice, sunshine and every product then advertised in Seventeen magazine in attempts to lighten my dark locks. Several years later, I went for salon highlights that on one occasion turned my hair orange instead of the promised “sun-kissed” look.

Now in middle age, I thought I was resigned to my brown-haired fate, more concerned with covering grey than chasing my inner blond. However, the subliminal truth was in my fiction all along.

Since it’s unlikely I’ll set stories in Finland (the country often reported to have the highest number of blonds per capita), I’ll have to stick to animal characters with light coats instead.

Among dog breeds, there are Golden retrievers, Apricot Poodles, Yellow Labradors and more. There are also tan cats with elegant cashmere-like coats and, in the poultry world, silkie bantam chickens, cuddly balls of sunshiny fluff. 

Although I’ll never know what it’s like to be a natural blond, for a creative mind, the possibilities—and yes, maybe even future book boyfriends—are endless.

And a news flash for those of you who may have missed it on social media…BookSweeps Romantic Women’s Fiction book giveaway (6-13 March 2017)* 

If you enjoy reading romantic women’s fiction (that may or may not feature blonds, animal characters and British English), this giveaway offers a chance to win my first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake, as well as novels by more than forty other authors, and a Kindle Fire. 

Enter the contest by clicking here.

*Runs from 6-13 March 2017 and open to those in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

23 Comments

  1. Lynn Folliott

    As usual Jen your post made me smile and even giggle…I used lemon juice too to try and lighten my what used to be dark hair. Looking forward to Summer at Firefly Lake!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Lynn. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As always, I appreciate you reading and commenting. Good to know I wasn’t the only one to try lemon juice way back when!

      Reply
  2. Sue Bavin

    I loved this, Jen. Such a fun blog, but with a serious message behind it. I love your reference to editorial hair dye. You’ve made me wonder what deep-seated yearnings of mine might have crept into my own writing. I was a dark-haired child too, but I never wanted to be blonde. What I wanted, what I was desperate for, was long hair, because my mum refused to let me grow mine. I remember swapping a short-haired doll of mine for my friend’s long-haired doll – long hair by proxy!

    PS You should definitely keep the magical dog. xx

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Sue. I note you do have long hair now…hmm!! Thanks, as always, for your staunch support of my blog. xx

      Reply
  3. Jen Gilroy (@JenGilroy1)

    RT @SusannaBavin: Writers, this is what happens when your deep-seated wishes pop up in your #writing.A fun &useful blog by @JenGilroy1 http…

    Reply
  4. Kate Field

    A fascinating blog Jen, and you’ve certainly made me think about my books! My heroines tend to have straight hair – definitely a subliminal wish on my part!
    My mum made me have my hair cut short when I was about 12 and it never recovered, so now I rarely take my daughter to the hairdresser – she can have hair as long and as wild as she likes! x

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      As someone who never travels without her hair straighteners, your comment made me chuckle, Kate. I hadn’t thought about it previously but yes, my heroines tend to have straight hair too! Thanks for reading and sharing. x

      Reply
  5. Beth Tilbury

    Very enjoyable as always, Jen, and the kind of thing your editors caught is what makes me “leave the story” because a mistake is so glaring that I am no longer engrossed. In a recent book by J.D. Robb, one of the characters changed sex, magically morphing from a female detective to a male one in the space of two pages. I kept flipping back and forth to be sure I wasn’t misreading!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      It’s very interesting to hear a reader’s perspective, Beth. I appreciate you sharing that and am glad you enjoyed my post.

      No matter how many times a book is checked, errors do sometimes slip through and everyone involved feels badly about it.

      J.D. Robb is such a wonderful author. I was privileged to hear her speak at a Romance Writers of America conference a few years ago. It was a ‘fan-girl’ moment for me!

      Reply
  6. Lynn (@lynngerridog)

    RT @SusannaBavin: Writers, this is what happens when your deep-seated wishes pop up in your #writing.A fun &useful blog by @JenGilroy1 http…

    Reply
  7. Arlene McFarlane

    Ahh, yes, I can relate to the “not being blonde” saga. But there are advantages to being dark-haired. That conversation is for another time though!

    Nice photo of you, too, Jen!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Arlene. Now I’m curious! We shall have to chat about hair colour and the brunette advantage!

      I’ll also pass along your kind comment about my photo (high school graduation) to English Rose. Suffice to say, she wasn’t impressed with how I once looked!

      Reply
  8. @Publisherperish

    RT @SusannaBavin: Writers, this is what happens when your deep-seated wishes pop up in your #writing.A fun &useful blog by @JenGilroy1 http…

    Reply
  9. @MoiraPlease1

    RT @SusannaBavin: If you are #editing your novel, read this blog. You’ll never look at your #writing in the same way again. https://t.co/r5…

    Reply
  10. Jennifer Wilck

    So funny! And oh my gosh, is that a picture of an actual person??? 😉

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, Jennifer. And yes, that is an actual person! Someone you know, in fact! 🙂

      Reply

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