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!