Diane Vallere is a force. Her conference packing is legend. (Follow her in Instagram, you won’t be sorry.) She has written several series, all of which are a lot of fun. She’s also a former president of Sisters in Crime. One of my favorite memories of Diane was a Malice event where she got the entire room singing a Doris Day song (Que Sera, Sera?) trying to break a record. Anyway, let’s all give Diane a Wicked Welcome.
The Much-Maligned Mistake
by Diane Vallere
Mistakes, I’m starting to believe, get a bad rap. I mean, nobody likes making mistakes, and we don’t like admitting we made mistakes, but those mistakes sometimes teach us things we didn’t know we needed to learn.
Hear me out.
In a recent, regular weekly newsletter, I included a link to my website with details about an upcoming book. I quickly learned that there was an odd capitalization in the link, which sent the link to my error page. I knew I’d be sending an (extra, unscheduled) email the following day to alert them to a new promo so I made a note to send the corrected link, assumed I could live with the shame of making a mistake for the 24 hours it would take until I fixed it, and went on with my day.
The second day, I sent the new email with the new link. And made another typo! Oh no!
I am generally okay making mistakes. (It’s not my favorite part of the being-me experience, but we’re all human, we all make mistakes, and if I held myself to a standard at which I never did anything that wasn’t perfect, I’d never do anything.) But still, there is a point at which mistakes beget more mistakes and it seems like nothing I do will never be correct again.
Please tell me that’s not just me.
In the most recent Madison Night Mystery, TEACHER’S THREAT, Madison is dealing with the repercussions of a mistake that came with a high price: her decorating business. (If you’re not familiar with Madison, she’s a decorator who specializes in mid-century design which she taught herself thanks to a lifetime of binge-watching Doris Day movies.) Madison learns that fixing her mistake is not as easy as sending an email with corrected information (or not, as the case may be), but that starting over at the ripe age of fifty-one is going to be an uphill battle.
Mistakes, by nature, are unplanned. They leave us shaking our heads, spouting curse words, reaching for the cookies (or the wine). They can sometimes be fixed easily and sometimes have repercussions that throw off our carefully planned agendas. But mistakes are life’s teachers. They force us to slow down and pay attention. They make us do things over and over until we get them right. They hold us accountable for sloppy or rushed work, or maybe even working while preoccupied.
When I first had the idea to give Madison business troubles in the previous book, I didn’t understand the ripple effect that her mistake would make into future books. All I knew at the time was she needed some complications. It turns out, she and I both thrive on complications; we have that in common.
I sometimes feel like my mission in life is to make mistakes and then keep on truckin’ like it’s no big deal. (My newsletter subscribers, who get lots of stories about my life, probably already know this about me!) I find the same behavior in most of my characters. In Madison Night’s case, her mistake led her to business school. In mine? My mistake uncovered a much bigger problem on my website which I fixed before sending another (correct! I swear!) link.
Mistakes sometimes they lead us to places we never expected to be, and sometimes—if we’re lucky—those mistakes turn out to get us exactly where we needed to go.
QUESTION: What mistakes led you to a new opportunity?
National bestselling author Diane Vallere writes funny and fashionable character-based mysteries. After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, she traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. A past president of Sisters in Crime, Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Subscribe to her newsletter (if you dare!) at dianevallere.com/weekly-diva.
ABOUT TEACHER’S THREAT:
A professor murdered during office hours. A decorator enrolled in his course. Can she outsmart the killer who designed the perfect crime?
Madison Night just learned that business isn’t sexy. She modeled her decorating career on a Doris Day movie, but after losing her company in a legal battle, the local banks are unimpressed with her unique sales angle. Determined to get her MBA, she attends night school – until her professor is found dead in his office after an intensely-heated lecture. Now the only degree she can think about is murder in the first.
While the college recovers, Madison’s last hope for a loan is denied. The dean resumes the coursework himself, and Madison can’t help wondering if the curriculum holds the clues to the murder. Continuing her education is not without risk; pursuing her MBA may leave her DOA.
Can Madison’s sleuthing make the grade or will failure be a fatal lesson?
Teacher’s Threat is the eighth captivating mystery in the Madison Night series. If you like smart protagonists, classroom controversies, and Cabot Cove syndrome, you’ll love Diane Vallere’s enjoyable book.
Hi, Diane! I miss seeing you at conferences! SOON, I hope. As for mistakes, I’m well acquainted with them. That old saying about “when one door closes, another opens” fails to mention how we sometimes smash our fingers in that closing door! But I totally agree with you. I definitely learn more from my mistakes than from my successes.
Annette, YES! My fingers get smashed a lot…but the end result is always worth it! Can’t wait to see you in person again — someday!
Welcome Diane aka Ms. Fashionista.
I learn not to do it again from my mistake. Take a different direction. It always work out.
Hi Dru Ann! I agree, as long as we learn and take a different direction (though sometimes it takes me a moment or two to reach that point), it’s worth the stumbling block. Thanks for the comment!
Welcome back, Diane! And congratulations on the new book. Ah, mistakes. I was glancing at my latest arc yesterday and on page two, a woman is wearing a wide straw. Not a straw hat! I missed it. My editor missed it. The copy editor missed it. And the proofreader missed it. I’m just glad I reported it in time and they seem to have been able to fix it in the print run. Sheesh!
Edith! I feel you on this one. I always mention this: in one book, I have an electric sewing machine running while the power is out, and none of us caught it! My cheeks still sting over that one!
Some days, just getting out of bed is a big enough mistake. The only opportunity after that is just going back to bed. Sadly, those days rarely fall on the weekend so I have to get up and keep going.
Recently, I finished reading an ARC that I was sent. It was an excellent book by someone who I think is a rising author. And this new book sure lends truth to that belief of mine. However, early in the book, I noticed that a proper name of a character was spelled wrong. I debated on letting the author know because this was an ARC which meant it was of course uncorrected. In the end, I messaged said author and let her know.
It turned out to be a good thing. Because she missed it, the publisher missed it and the copy editor and apparently proofreader missed it. (Having just read Edith’s reply above, I need to stress this wasn’t her book I’m talking about.) I was the only one that caught it. They emailed the publisher who had to get it fixed in the final copy. I joked that I was a book themed super hero of the day!
Hi Jay, always good to be a book-themed super hero! I’m sure everyone involved was happy that you sent that message.
As for the mistake of getting out of bed…if we never got out of bed, we’d never experience the joy of climbing in at night!
Like Edith, my proofreader uncovered a big mistake in the upcoming August book – I killed a character before I could pay them hush money – yet said I’d paid them. Oops. Fortunately, that got fixed.
In real life, I trusted someone who shouldn’t have been trusted and it cost me a job. But it set me on the path to writing, so I guess it worked out in the end!
Liz, whew on catching that timeline error!
As for trust and the job, it’s not always easy to see how things are working out for us, but you’re such a great writer that anything that sent you on that path was definitely good, regardless of how it might have felt at the time!
Welcome back! I can’t wait until we get back to going to conferences and we can see your packing photos again! My audio narrator just caught that I’d changed the name of a character from Fred to Frank between one book of the Chloe books and book two. It’s too late to fix it for the first round of books. After wine, wailing, cookies, and berating myself for twenty-four hours, I realized this isn’t the life-shattering event that it felt like. Life lessons.
Sherry! At the beginning of Covid, I considered doing packing photos: “packing to go to the kitchen,” “packing to go to the living room.” (all photos would have included pajamas and slippers… 🙂 )
You are definitely right, when we discover these mistakes they feel like the end of the world, but there are worse things that could happen!
You should have done that! Miss you!
Hi Diane, so good to see you here. Looking forward Madison’s adventure. Mistakes – oh, yeah. I’ve managed to learn from most, although some are still head scratchers!
Kait, Good to see you too! Hope the menagerie is thriving. If you’re like me, then trying to do things quickly usually leads to a swirling vortex of more mistakes — GRRRRR! Eventually, that lesson gets through. (usually.)
I have learned from my mistakes. We all make mistakes , but we do need to learn from them, now if we don’t , we just keep on making them again.
So true, Alicia! Being perfect would be boring.
Congrats on the new book! I need to work hard to catch up on my novels.
I make mistakes constantly. If only I’d learn something from them….
Thanks, Mark! Haha, maybe you enjoy the fixing stage more than others…!
Congrats on the latest book! I don’t know that any mistake I’ve made (and there sure have been plenty of them) led to a specific opportunity, but admitting mistakes keeps me humble. That makes opportunities more desirable because I’m much more open to them.
Ginny, so true! Sometimes the act of making mistakes and moving on makes us more resilient — maybe it’s just knowing the sky didn’t fall — and that leads to more and better things in the future.
What a great post! Very thoughtful AND thought-provoking.
Congratulations on your new book, Diane. Can’t wait to read it and can’t wait to see you at a conference again!
Thanks, Cynthia! Can’t wait to see you too! xo
(And everyone! Can’t wait to see everyone at conferences…)
Still wrangling the (now) 9,864 unread emails, but I DO have Teacher’s Threat on the Paperwhite…
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