Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Do you have red phone buddies?

It's a given that most writers have one or more 'readers' who read their work pre-publication, but do you have any red phone buddies?

Here's what happens if you're a 'red-phone buddy'. Your phone rings (early morning while you're in the shower, mid-day when you're in a meeting, late at night when you're asleep; it doesn't matter - the person on the other end is a writer on a deadline so to them it's "all about the book" and he/she assumes you're 100% accessible). You answer and your writer friend immediately asks one or more urgent questions. Questions like these:

-- What type of animals eat their young?
-- If I opened my car door and you drove by and hit it at 50 km
an hour, would it really rip off like in the movies?
-- Do you think EGGOS is an internationally recognizable product?
-- How many people are allowed in a small hot air balloon?
-- What's the name of the mint you drop into a Coke bottle to blow the lid off?

If you're a writer, you know the drill. You're working on a chapter and then suddenly - BAM - you need to know if a car door really would rip off its hinges if another vehicle hit it at 50 km an hour. It's midnight and your husband's asleep, but that's okay, because you've got a red phone buddy in an earlier time zone who probably knows the answer.

I'm lucky. I have one on the west coast, one on the east coast, one in the mid-west, and even ORION in Hawaii. I have an elderly guy who knows the most incredible things, a belly dancer, a guy who lived on the dark side of the law in the 70s and 80s and sometimes - when no one answers their phone - I call my agent, who becomes a back-up red phone buddy.

Yes, I know GOOGLE is a great tool, but my red phone buddies are perfect for those "obscure questions" that often require clarification when I'm writing. To thank them (along with two of my core readers) I slid a few of their names into my latest novel, The Penny Tree, as walk-on characters. I figure it's the least I can do. And based on the number of calls I've been making lately, today's post is dedicated to my red phone buddies.

P.S. By the way, the name of mint you drop into a Coke bottle to blow the lid off is a MENTO!


wordman17 said...

Kewl stuff...It's a good day when I manage to get the first comment on anyone's blog. :)

I've got 2 red phone buddies but they don't answer during meetings or when they're asleep. One has even threatened my life if I wake her up again.

Katie said...

I belong to a community of close-knit women who have mostly known each other for ages. They're my red-phone buddies!

Now, for the hot pink phone -- "if the character does XYZ, and then ABC happens, does that resolve LMNOP?" -- that's my virtual writing sorority girls.

Kyla-dale said...

Damn. Wordman17 beat me.
That's not right!!!!

I have a few red-phone buddies. One is a teacher and one *no kidding* is a private detective, but he never gets exciting cases -- just husands/wives hiring him to see if their better 1/2s are cheating!! LOL

Anonymous said...

I call those people my rubber walls. I'm really going to miss one when I move off the rock; she'll drop just about anything to answer ths silliest of questions.

Anonymous said...

I heard the Mentos mint thing only works with Diet Coke - not regular Coke. Just in case you really needed that detail.

Friend from W-peg said...

Hol, I wanna be a red-phone buddy!

SEriously. You NEVER phone me and
I know stuff. I could help!!!

I think Tigers eat their young.
And I'm pretty sure a car door would rip of if your doing, like, 70-80 km, but maybe not 50?

Mary said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Holly! I'm glad I came by here. I learned about Mentos. You have a great blog and I'll be back! Gerbils eat their young, I think.

Holly Kennedy said...

Oooh, Mary, thanks for that.
I'm a big rodent hater, so this doesn't surprise me :)

Wordman17 -- who woke you up so early?!

Kate -- red-phone buddies have their own language, don't they?! What I love about them is that there's no need to preface our conversations with all that time wasting chit-chat about weather and such. It's all about getting straight to the point.

Kyla-dale -- your PI sounds like the perfect buddy to call for interesting info.

Seeley -- even if you move, you can always phone her :)

Anon - Diet Coke? You sure?
I'm going to have my hubby and the boys test it (something they'll love doing!)

Wpeg friend, identify yourself! I'm open to calling.

adrienne said...

Just went through all your latest entries (been away, now must catch up). Congrats on all the amazing stuff that's been going down, and I still think your son is just about the cutest.

To answer this question. I guess my parents are the ones I call most often with specific questions. But my friend Heather who is right now in the UK has helped a lot as has my friend Lesley with just hashing things out. I did make an emergancy phone call to Boston once to ask my friend Carrie for her help with my title (she is great at titles).

Holly Kennedy said...

Adrienne! Thanks for popping by again. I'm all snarled hair and PJs here as I write in my cave-like basement office, but I decided to come up for air and do some blogging this week.

Therese said...

We have a mixed opinion on the Mentos question here among my four boys--you're going to have to try it yourself!

I never heard of red phone buddies! Never thought to call someone up for those sorts of questions...huh! I'm missing an entire category of research resources!

Demon Hunter said...

Great post! I never had a name for those folks, but now I do. Red phone buddies; I like it! I have a friend who has a VERY interesting and colorful life. He is a Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Manic Mom said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by Manic Mom's. I'll be reading more about Holly!

S-Helm from New Jersey said...

WTF, this is ZACTLY what I need!!

Where can I get me a red-phone buddy? How does one cultivate relationships with people who allow you to call them day or night? Puleeze share??!!

THIS is a great idea :)

Holly Kennedy said...

Therese -- my hubby and two sons tried it with a neighbor kid using COKE and it worked semi-well, but now they're gonna try DIET COKE. And, yes, if you haven't already, you MUST find some solid red-phone buddies!!

Demon Hunter and Manic Mom, thanks for popping by; it's great to have new visitors! :)

S-helm from Jersey -- Milk your friends! Find out who's the best conversationalist at every party, the person everyone else gathers around who seems to have infinite memory retention. Then move in for the kill and pitch the red-phone buddy concept, promising (of course) to thank them in print on your acknowledgements page when you're published.

LadyBronco said...

Thanks for stopping by on my blog!

I really need to find a red-phone buddy! right now, Google is my friend, but I would sooo love to call someone at 2am and ask 'So, how does a blue-screen thing work again'? lol...

Kimber An said...

Everyone should know it's suicide to go up against a writer in a game of Trivial Pursuit!

Melissa Marsh said...

My red phone buddy is my husband. He's a fountain of knowledge. But I'm one of those people who is shy about calling people on the phone - I would rather shoot them an email. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is the hubby...

It is definately DIET Coke. Check


ORION said...

I'll write a longer post but right now I'm on the phone with Holly...