January 31, 2013

Duke's Big Oops! - Donna Fawcett

We're pleased to have Donna Fawcett, with Duke the Chihuahua, as our Guest Blogger today on InScribe Writers Online.

It started out as a simple writing contract. Duke would put his words to someone else’s idea. He thought it was a win-win situation. He would get paid and get a bit more exposure as a writer. He didn’t count on the kind of exposure that ended up in the story.

See, it all goes back to contracts. Duke signed one—and he didn’t clarify some of the key points because in his puritan puppy mind, he didn’t think that he would be called upon to write what wasn’t exactly his bowl of kibble. The writing began. The plot summary arrived and Duke formed his scenes and characters. All was going well until Duke’s hero, Curtis the Corgi fell in love with his counterpart, Andrea Afghan. What followed was a somewhat descriptive and steamy scene in outline format.

Duke swallowed hard and dove into the writing, all the while asking himself how far he could carry this scene without revealing all and marring his reputation. Words jockeyed back and forth between contractor and contractee. A compromise was made. Duke wrote the scene without setting his scruples aside. Somewhere between the writing of and the publishing of this particular story, a stage of editing took place and Duke is reading the final product with an expression of mortification plastered on his mug.

It appears that the contract allowed for one final edit by the contractor. Duke took this to mean that any spelling and grammar mistakes would be cleaned up. The contractor took it to mean that she had poetic license. Her poetry and Duke’s poetry don’t quite line up. So now, there is a story drifting through literary circles with Duke’s name below the contractor’s name and this particular story is more than a little spicy.

I have received a copy of the story, the contract and a plea for help. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do but cool my blushing cheeks and pray that the story will disappear into the literary fog. Duke is upset to say the least, especially since he just finished writing a blog post about the importance of integrity in writing.

We must remember to keep focus on what we write and why we write it. That is the only way to avoid crossing boundaries we have set down for ourselves. If we don't feel comfortable writing that graphic murder scene then we need to remind ourselves of that before committing to doing so. If we are writing for the Christian market, we must always consider that Christianity will be our central theme and compromise has no place in our writing. If we write gentle romance we need to make certain that we remember our readers who expect to read gentle romance and we keep delicate issues vague in their description. It is too easy to conform to writing which overlaps into other writing markets and shouldn’t.

So now Duke thinks he looks like a hypocrite. I have tried my best to soothe his ruffled soul with platitudes to the effect that we all blunder from time to time and for the most part the human—and canine—race is forgiving. I suggested he follow up with a blog post about making certain you understand the parameters of jobs for which you hire yourself out. He could include the pitfalls of not asking enough questions. He could finish with the suggestion that a writer leave themselves a way to ease out of a contract if it is pushing boundaries.

From there, I suggested Duke just sit tight and hope time will ease the humiliation.

© Donna Fawcett


Duke and Donna have recently published their fun, new book entitled Duke the Chihuahua Writes! A Tutorial for Beginning Writers.

It's available on smashwords.com and can be purchased for $.99 US.


  1. Duke and Bee (and Donna) have lots of good writing tips in this book!

  2. Poor Duke! Could he have got out of the contract by saying his conscience wouldn't allow him to go on and returning the money? What was the worst that could have happened had he not gone through with the contract?

  3. I imagine duke will be very careful from now on. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing a very important "lesson learned", Donna!

  5. Donna, I hope Duke feels better by now.

    We're very glad you shared his experience with us... some good lessons!

  6. Anonymous7:20 am GMT-7

    Enough time has passed and Duke has prayed mightily. The book has remained in obscurity. Duke did try to get out of the contract but was threatened with a law suit. He didn't ask me for my opinion until it was too late and the contract wording was such that he would have lost the suit and brought more publicity to the book than he wanted. He is learning to ask for an opinion before he makes decision so I guess it has had a positive side. He thanks all of you for your kind comments.

    Donna and Duke


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