Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blind Spots

Chris Roerden (Guest Blogger)

I'm puzzled by the way some writers misinterpret a less-than-enthusiastic acceptance of their submissions. Okay, I'll call it what it is — rejection — but it's not the I'd-rather-swallow-a-snake form of rejection.

Some years ago I met a writer who worked for a successful producer of online games. Lynn's first attempt at a novel and her first rejection letter brought her to me. "They hated my work," she wailed. "This—this agent simply hated it." I read the letter. It began, "I like your writing style—"
"She lies," Lynn said. "If she liked my writing, she wouldn't have rejected it." Blind Spot #1: equating a compliment or encouragement with a willingness to make a financial investment in every book that's likable.

The letter continued. "Though this novel isn't for us, I hope you'll let me see your next one." Despite my translating what "isn't for us" means in publishing, Lynn was unconvinced. Even my pointing out the rare invitation to send the agent her next manuscript didn't overcome Blind Spot #2: a crippling determination to feel rejected, no matter what.

To the writers reading this, let me know what you make of all this. Maybe Lynn's reaction was related to something editor Anne Mini reported: More than half of agent invitations to revise and resubmit are not acted on. Yet these invitations are for manuscripts already inside the door, if the writer chooses to step through it. So I'm not sure of the reason for Blind Spot #3: not following up on a request to revise and resubmit. Does the revision suggested by the agent seem too difficult, too much work? Is that why my silent auction donations to edit the first 10 pages of a mystery, good for a year, remain unredeemed by three-quarters of those who've paid a dozen conferences for their winning bids?

What I do understand is the reaction of an author to being edited. I'm not talking about those heavy-handed copy editors who change dialogue for characters they don't relate to, or perversely swap the punctuation of every "it's" with "its" — and vice versa — as happened with a manuscript I'd edited between the time I sent it to the publisher and got it back for proofreading.

No, I'm talking about a thorough developmental and line edit. One's baby, red slashed across its face, would overwhelm anyone. (Which is why I use pencil.) Then comes anger: that stupid, evil editor! "Murderer!" Eventually, professionalism prevails and the author recognizes the validity of perhaps 75 to 98 percent of editorial suggestions.

I doubt that this understandable reaction is related to Blind Spot #4: a conviction held by some that their work is perfect as is. Here's but one of many stories I can tell you. (I've quite a few.) A New Jersey radiation oncologist who planned to self-publish had the perfect reason: she could market her nonfiction book directly to cancer patients.

She had her manuscript expensively typeset and composed, with dozens of medical photos, and took the finished page proofs to a top-level publicity outfit. They read the work, said they would not accept it unless the doctor had it professionally edited, and referred her to me. I was still editing full-time then and willing to postpone a mystery manuscript to take on a technical edit.

I requested a sample and received the autobiographical chapter. Impressive credentials, well-written. So I asked for my deadline, half the fee, and the pre-typeset, pre-composed manuscript files. The writing was dreadful. I edited and rewrote 1,500 sentences, inputting all of it to the e-file. For hundreds of ambiguously described medical procedures, too muddled to guess at, I queried. And I met my deadline.

Her complaint? Too much editing. "It took me 12 solid days to get through the edited manuscript and make the changes you suggested. You made me miss my deadline." Surely the doctor found merit in my queries since she chose to address them instead of meeting her deadline (self-imposed).

What's too much editing for a book intended to make cancer patients better informed, less fearful? I could reveal this New Jersey radiation oncologist's name, since my legal judgment against her for nonpayment of the balance is a matter of public record. But I don't need to. My point is the blind spot. Only some writers have it, along with some inventors, musicians, and artists. Not editors, though. You think?
_______________________
Chris Roerden is the author of DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION, the all-genre version of DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, winner of the Agatha Award and nominee for the Anthony and Macavity awards. Authors she's edited in her long career are published by St. Martin's, Berkley Prime Crime, Midnight Ink, Viking, Rodale, and many others. Visit bellarosabooks.com for more information.

50 comments:

Mary Margret said...

I don't think difficulty taking editorial feedback is caused by "blind spots," or despite your experience with the doctor, a "How Dare You Say I'm Not Perfect" attitude.

I've known two writers who reacted to "encouraging rejections" exactly as you described. They went on to be as unpublished today as they were then.

The root cause of the "blind spot" phenomena is that the writers haven't developed the ego-strength to separate themselves from their work.

Yes, it's hard, and no, you'll never do it completely, but if a you don't manage to create a mental space in which remarks about your book aren't the same as remarks about YOU or your ability to write, editorial suggestions--whether in a rejection or in a provisional acceptance--will shut you down. Every time.

Pen N. Hand said...

Chris, Thank you for your help at HAWC, it has been invaluable to us.
One reason new authors may not follow through with encouraging letters from agents is a discussion thread we had earlier about an agent who keeps turning up at conferences, workshops, in the pages of Writer's Digest and other venues. I counted 32 SINC members who'd had "rewrite and revision" experiences, then flat rejection that extended.
Fear of being scammed is a major factor. It is difficult to ascertain what is genuine when you've had little experience in the arena of publishing.

Pen N. Hand said...

Whoops! How do you edit a comment to an editor when you didn't complete a delete and add a period?

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks for joining us this weekend, Chris. Mary Margret,I think both you and Chris are right. From my "shrink" perspective, lack of ego strength is a good psychological explanation for experiencing any criticism at all as a narcissistic wound. The "blind spots" are rationalizations that form the writer's unconscious defense structure. If they're really that vulnerable deep down, they may never get past this. Or, like many of us, they may get better at taking criticism and separating the self from the work over time.

Sandra Parshall said...

I've had my share of disastrous experiences when trying to rewrite to please a particular agent. I'm happy to rewrite to make something better, but if I'm asked to do something I strongly object to -- adding sex scenes, for example, or tearing a book apart to give an unmarried female protagonist a young daughter and then making the child the object of the villain's attention -- the result is not going to be a better book. If you can't write the subgenre of book that an agent wants, you'd be wise to move on to other agents.

This--
Blind Spot #2: a crippling determination to feel rejected, no matter what.--
is something I see even in published writers who are enjoying success. They didn't get an award nomination, they didn't make the bestseller list, blah blah blah. Spare me. In these rough times, if what you're writing is getting published, you have no cause for self-pity. Look around you at all the excellent writers who have been dropped by their publishers, and be grateful for what you have.

Chris said...

To Pen N. Hand:

I love your "hand"le! So nice meeting you at HAWC and discovering a writer willing to give me feedback on my latest book. Fear of being scammed is, of course, a legitimate concern. What a valuable opportunity Sisters in Crime makes possible for sharing the agent experiences that help writers feel better about themselves and their work. I wouldn't call their ultimate rejection a scam, and I don't think you are calling it that either. I've seen something similar, where the rewrite just doesn't improve the work enough, partly the writer's limitations, partly the agent's (or editor's) inadequate instruction. I've found it hard to know how much explanation each writer needs to "get" what's wanted; a few of my suggestions to one writer keep being missed in his revisions, but when we talk about it instead of via email he gets it right away. So type of approach is a factor; so is amount of detail and example -- which is why I wrote DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY. Perhaps the agent you describe is initially trying to give the reasons for "falling short" of acceptance, which writers say they want. Too softhearted to reject outright, but it backfires.
Chris

Chris said...

Elizabeth, I should have known to ask a therapist. Of course you're right, as is Mary Margaret. Scriptwriters learn quickly to separate themselves from their work - or they leave the field. I'm glad I started in an editorial department where the focus was not on the writer but on the product, as in any commercial enterprise, and I learned quickly that a commercially acceptable product took cooperation.

Chris said...

Mary Margaret, thank you for your observations. Lack of ego strength is it exactly. What collective term can we give to all these reactions? We hear a lot of shorthand advice from keynote speakers: be persistent. I think it's misinterpreted at times to mean 'don't give an inch' when it really applies to don't give up.

Julia Buckley said...

This is interesting, Chris, and it makes sense. I've always found agent comments to be smart and worthwhile, but it didn't necessarily change the slight shame of receiving them (why didn't I see that?).

I think there's a bit of the "fear of success" idea at work here, too. If one refuses to make the changes an agent suggests, one doesn't have to worry that the book will be published--maybe for some people, deep down, that's too daunting a prospect.

Chris Roerden said...

Sandra, how right you are. It takes experience to recognize the difference between making something that's right even stronger vs. bending something into a different subgenre. And I'd not thought of the other excellent examples you give about the disappointments of successful authors turning into the same kind of determination to feel rejected. Thank you,
Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Wow, Julia, that's a great point - let's not try so we can wallow in 'poor me.' If we take that idea even further, we could include all the nonwriting folks we meet who say "I could write a book, if I only had the time."
Chris

Kenna said...

Chris - great post. I am about half way through 'Don't Sabotage Your Submissions'. It's taking awhile between work and family, but it such a great resource.

I hope, now that I see the 'blind spots' that I can avoid them myself. Of course, it will be awhile before I submit again - I'm still in the throes of learning the craft to become at least a consciously competent writer.

Thanks for your help, BTW!

Anonymous said...

Chris, you're a real gem to writers..Thanks for taking the time to post your experiences and insights!

P.S. DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY rocks.

Anonymous said...

This--
Blind Spot #2: a crippling determination to feel rejected, no matter what.--
is something I see even in published writers who are enjoying success. They didn't get an award nomination, they didn't make the bestseller list, blah blah blah. Spare me. In these rough times, if what you're writing is getting published, you have no cause for self-pity. Look around you at all the excellent writers who have been dropped by their publishers, and be grateful for what you have.


Thank you for this, Sandy! I've been hearing lots of whining from certain writers, and it makes me crazy.

Jess said...

Enjoyed the post and fascinated by Blind Spot #2: a crippling determination to feel rejected, no matter what.

Are you talking to me? I've always said I'm my own worst enemy, and unfortunately, I can identify with Blindspots 1 & 2. A month or so ago, I came across a file folder of every rejection I've received. I sat and read them, and was stunned at the positive encouragement from editors and agents. I didn't remember accepting that encouragement, but instead had focussed on the SORRY, Not Right for Us.

I have no idea why I'm like this. I just know that no amount of encouragement can destroy the huge mountain of insecurity inside me. I've even been blessed enough to have one book published, and the whole time I sat autographing books, I felt like a phoney. Still, I love writing, I freelance, I have an agent, I help and encourage others... Encouraging is probably what I do best. I don't have a problem taking editorial suggestions, I can meet deadlines early... I just can't believe that anyone would believe in me and I can't believe in myself. So yes, a crippling determination to feel rejected--not matter what. How does anyone EVER get cured from such as that? I can't help but wonder how successful/productive I would/could be if I could/would accept the slightest of compliments and encouragement. ;)

Thanks for the post. Sure made me think.

Chris said...

Kenna, thank you for your good words. Perhaps I'll be able to distill the wisdom in all these great comments and make a handout or book supplement that urges "take before each submission," because the dosage needs regular repetition, like any vitamin or strength-building exercise. I think the individuals I write about (above) might be immune to such aids, but to you and writers like you who continue to seek improvement in craft, more power to you!
Chris

Chris Roerden said...

To Anonymous, thank you for saying such good things, and with a jeweler's eye (gem, rocks!). You know, I didn't think of it as taking time as much as nerve - I haven't aired these thoughts until now and wasn't sure what reaction I'd provoke. I'm grateful for your support.
Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Oh, Jess, I know what you mean. It took me ages to not deflect the positive to focus on the negative. And I thought it was from an overly critical, negative upbringing that I had the survivor instinct to leave asap. I'm so glad you had the ability and opportunity to review your "R" folder to spot the positives. Maybe that's a necessary step to climb that mountain of insecurity and celebrate the strength of character it took you to reach its top. The world looks pretty small from up there, and the air is clear. Thank you for sharing your story.
Chris

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Jess, For some people, therapy can make a big difference. I have worked with many clients whose perfectionism and self-doubt prevents them from feeling good about their achievements. Often, there's a wounded "inner child" who's still reacting to unmet needs, harsh criticism, or some other issue in childhood that made self-deprecation a survival skill. The first step to healing is bringing it out of the unconscious and into the light, and therapists are good at helping people do that.

RhondaL said...

Great post, Chris. I've learned that any comment other than a rubber stamp on the returned piece is "a good 'un."

Karen Lieb said...

I've never tried to get anything published . . . well, except for freebies, which editors have gladly taken. But I've been to a number of workshops where editors have made comments such as, "It can be the best book ever . . . but if we are not accepting in that area, or if we already have all of our authors lined up for this year, we're not going to publish you."

I can relate to the editors' publishing dilemma in an unique way. When I was served on an Alumni Board of Directors, an annual event would be to select one graduate to be the Distinguished Graduate for that year. Talk about difficult. We'd have some amazing candidates--but we could only choose ONE.

What I'm saying is, don't fall into the Blind Spot #2 category. Your Baby could be perfect as could be--it's just not the right time for some publishers.

Grapeshot/Odette said...

Rejection comes in many forms and for me the hardest to take are the form rejections, which I refer to as something unprintable. A rejection with good feedback is as precious as rubies. Of course I know some writers who give up after two or three rejections.

My hero is Harry Hunsicker who kept sending out his manuscript 100+ times--I think it was 113. And guess what? He has several books out now and is an officer in MWA.

Of course rejection hurts, but you have to suck it up and continue to write, continue to polish, and continue to hope.

Chris Roerden said...

Rhonda:
How wise you are. Agents and acquiring editors turned to the use of rubber stamps and preprinted form letters precisely because some authors write back to them to argue defensively and to occasionally call them names. I've received only a little defensiveness: When I recommended that a first novel be trimmed to under 100,000 words before submitting, one writer told me of a best-selling first novel that is well over 100,000. When I suggested opening with current action instead of backstory, I was told of a similar exception by some other hot seller.
Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Karen, thank you for your observation. You're right about some publishers having only one opening for that season's releases -- even if they publish many titles a year -- because the one opening could be for a specific subgenre that appeals to a niche market slightly different from that of the submission. Decisions are all about predicting success in the market.
As I say in both DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION, if publishing's risk-takers believe their return on investment will be modest, a reasonably well-written manuscript that generates mild but not wild enthusiasm is likely to be passed over even if there's nothing wrong with it.

Chris Roerden said...

To Grapeshot/Odette:

I'm so glad you said suck it up and continue to hope -- probably the most important personality trait of any writer who expects to break into a tough business. And a business it is.

You are smart to recognize the value of all suggestions received from busy agents, acquiring editors, and their assistants. These professionals share their time encouraging the writer who is "almost there," even when no spot exists for that acquisition. (A brief thank you note reinforces future acts of kindness.)

As for impersonal form rejections, I mention defensive arguments in my just-posted reply to RhondaL's comment. Several agents have talked about being hounded by writers who want to clarify, explain, excuse ... ad infinitum, and don't give up -- even the well-meaning writers who reply to the 100-queries-a-day professional with assurances that they are following that person's recommendations to work on X's weak characterization, and building X's interactions with Y (and by the way can I resubmit?). They have no idea they are wasting their creative energies trying to establish an ongoing correspondence with an agent who was under no obligation to offer feedback, instead of using those energies for revision and for better research into who is publishing what. Of course, if the professional wanted that well-meaning pen-pal to resubmit, that would have been stated.

Chris

RhondaL said...

I've seen the suggestion that aspiring novelists write for a newspaper, and it's usually given so that writers get used to the idea that they have to produce "copy" on a regular basis.

But a great "side effect" of time spent in a newsroom is that you learn to accept editing. You learn that the opportunity to make your own changes as directed by the editor -- instead of waking up, opening the paper and seeing those changes already made -- is more than acceptable.

Chester Campbell said...

Enjoyed your comments as usual, Chris. I have made reference to Don't Murder Your Mystery in several blogs over the past few months. I can understand how the Blind Spots arise, but I think the determination to press on is what gets you past them. I've had more than a few agents write how they like my writing but the story isn't for them. At my age, I don't feel I have the luxury of waiting around for the luck of the draw to catch up with me. That's why I dropped the agent search and stuck with the small press option.

Chris Roerden said...

Rhonda:
Your suggestion about having newsroom experience is a great one. If I could only figure out how to overcome the resistance to the serial* comma that journalism injects into writers like flu vaccine. Explaining that the book industry follows Chicago Manual of Style guidelines is no longer as potent as it used to be.
But the work ethic is there, and learning to take direction and make one's own revisions has to be good preparation. Thank you for that useful observation.
*aka the Harvard comma, Oxford comma, academic comma.
Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Chester, thank you so much for referencing DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY! I'll be sure to visit your blog.

You're right that determination (and endless patience) work in the long run. You also touch on another factor, age, but I'd take that a step further and say it's the career objectives of the writer that matter. Where you and I have had life careers already, I'd like those with careers in writing still ahead of them to benefit from the determination to get in the doors that will be "right" for them. For example....

Though exceptions exist (and they ARE exceptions), writers who impatiently opt for self-publishing later discover they aren't eligible as panelists at some conferences or for some awards and some memberships. That can hurt one's feelings as well as career growth.

Another critical factor you touch on, Chester, concerns agents. I'd like hopeful writers to learn: (1) Never say the money doesn't matter. Even if it doesn't to you, don't say it. It's sign of an amateur, and agents won't waste time on you. (2) The kind of money that matters to agents is not the 15% trickle of eventual royalties but the quick, up-front 15% of a big advance. (3) Only big publishers give big advances (yes, I know all this is in flux -- but take it from an old-timer in the business, publishing is never NOT in flux). (4) Unless your work is "mainstream" enough for its genre, it's unlikely to appeal to major publishing houses, which require a broader market than the smaller niche-focused presses. Ergo, the work is unlikely to appeal to an agent.

For Chester, and for me with my two recent books for writers -- as well as for many other writers (but not all) -- small royalty-paying presses are ideal: No agent needed and a quicker route to publication. And as long as you do not pay the press for a single thing but actually receive royalties, there's no taint of self-publication, no ineligibility for panels, awards, etc., and no overt discrimination -- though I won't deny that among some folks, the status of the house may be held in lower esteem.

But the greatest benefit is a longer career -- if you want one. With shorter print runs, the publisher sees fewer break-the-bank returns. This means the small press sees a profit sooner, and more often, than a large press, which will drop you in a NY minute if sales are less than outstanding.

A personal note: I had no expectations of any advance from my publisher, but after the success of DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, I received -- unasked -- a modest advance on the book's all-genre version, DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION. So advances do happen. But know your career goals, plan accordingly, and remain determined and hopeful.

Thank you, Chester, for the opportunity to get off on my favorite topic!

Chris

Darlene Ryan said...

Welcome, Chris. Do you have any suggestions for helping a writing friend who seems to have all the blind spots you mentioned? I did give her a copy of Don't Murder Your Mystery as a gift.

Chris Roerden said...

Hi Darlene:
As they say in my adopted South, bless your heart.
Send your friend to this blog, because the comments coming in from other writers are fabulous, whether or not your friend recognizes herself from my own statements.
The varied testimony here, and the insight, are truly wonderful and extraordinarily helpful to other writers.
BTW, I'll be responding for as long as new comments appear this week. After today, this topic will remain accessible by scrolling, and eventually be archived as either Jan 31 or Feb 1. It won't be hard to find.

Chris

Beth Terrell said...

Thank you for the wise advice, Chris. I tell everyone about your wonderful books on editing, DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION.

I know how hard it is to separate yourself from your writing; hearing a criticism of the writing does indeed feel like a criticism of the writer--at least, TO the writer. But we just have to learn what we can from it and keep showing up and knocking on that door.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Rebecca said...

Chris, this sounds so familiar to me. Not as a writer mind you. As a writer I look for every positive word in a response to my query. Even though I'm really thin skinned as a person, as a writer I know better.

For thirty years I "edited" freshman/sophomore essays in the usually labeled Eng 101,102, 201,202. Students without pretensions to becoming writers have reactions similar to those you describe. And when they were sufficiently into denial to take their complaints to one's Chair or Dean or President, or their parent does, I couldn't take them to court.
Rebecca

Sandra Parshall said...

The best reason for learning to accept criticism is that we often are truly blind where our own work is concerned. We can see all the flaws in someone else's writing, without being able to see that we're doing the very same things.

Why is that? When we look at our own work, we're bringing to it all sorts of things that may not have made it to the page: our vision of the story, our knowledge of the characters, our emotional responses, the experiences and memories that might have inspired the fiction. Other readers will have none of that "supporting evidence" for our belief that the story is a work of genius. :-) Even if we don't agree with all of the criticism, and may reject suggestions that would change the book drastically, we should be willing to listen and at least consider what readers with fresh eyes have to say. We can rant and rave and whine (I do!), but after a few minutes or hours of that, we should ask ourselves whether the critiquer has a point.

Chris Roerden said...

Beth:
Thank you for telling everyone about my books! I couldn't ask for better support.

I can identify with feeling embarrassed by making a mistake, but lucky when I catch my own and grateful when someone else does. (Distressed if it's gotten into print, but grateful nevertheless.)

The need to deal with revisions increases as the writer moves up the ladder to publication. In fact, the revisions at times become major and the suggestions can seem impossible to carry out. I'm sure some writers feel that the originator of a criticism is just being a mean ol' skunk.

So if you or anyone else has an idea of how to help fellow writers develop a healthy separation so they can keep knocking on those doors, I'm all ears.

Marilynne said...

These comments are as good as the article itself.

When I was beginning to write I tried hard to be professional. When an editor wrote to me that the second half of my article didn't seem to fit. She asked if she could buy the first half.

I had the first half separated out and polished and in the mail the next day. To me, it was the mark of a professional.

I took another look at the second half, polished it, and sent it to another magazine. Sold them both.

The editor was right. Now that I've been edited a few times, I know that sometimes writer and editor are just on different planets. Unless it's work for hire, if I think I'm right, I stick to my guns.

Marilynne

Chris Roerden said...

Rebecca:

Your "knowing better" as a writer and not giving in to the same thin-skinned feelings as a person is perhaps the answer--the kernel of separation to be valued and nurtured. Those who don't develop it either quit because the disappointments are too crushing, or turn mean, like a cornered animal. Oh that's much too strong, but you see some of the same meanness in a student's making trouble for you.

Thank you so much for the comparison with your students. I do remember some complaints to my own dean by a few students who saw no value to their future careers in business from being required in class to write a report. Hah!

Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Sandra:

You're so right about all the "supporting evidence" that never makes it to the page. I pondered a similar question about 30 years ago when I wrote an article that's been posted on my business website for a long time, at: http://marketsavvybookediting. com/biggestproblem.pdf

I wrote then about the biggest problem for a writer, having nonfiction in mind, but the phenomenon applies to fiction writing, too. Come to think of it, it's also about a type of blind spot.

Only another person -- such as a critique partner or editor -- is able to see where the supporting evidence doesn't "make it to the page." It's why "self-editing" is an oxymoron. And why editing was found by the NYState Supreme Court in a 1990 $3.5 million lawsuit against Vantage Press to be one of only two functions (marketing was the other) that determined the difference between a vanity publisher and a legitimate publisher.

Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Marilynne:

I agree -- the comments are wonderful! Everyone posting comments here has broadened and deepened the topic to apply so wisely to many issues that affect writers and their feelings.

I'm guessing that your own positive experience in selling both halves of an article have made you even more of an advocate for listening to feedback than if the experience had been a negative one -- the key being listening, or as Sandra Parshall says, asking ourselves whether the editor might have a point.

I've always told writers you can accept a suggestion, reject it, or find the best of both worlds by resolving the problem in your own way, but first asking what might have made Chris (or anyone else) stop reading and make that "unacceptable" suggestion in the first place. I think we're starting to hear the willingness to listen as a skill marking this new presidency.

Thank you, Marilynne, for your insight.
Chris

Ilene said...

Chris:

Your comments seem accurate. I'm sure I've been guilty of several. The only time, however, that I decided not to rewrite to please an agent(actually, it was the only time becuase only one agent requested I do so) was because I researched her further and discovered she was retired and probably not able to help me "shop" the book. (She also wanted me to change the title, saying the pun was understandable only to those on the Coasts; I think she underestimated the cultural savvy of the Midwest.)

One interesting aside: on a listserv from my publisher, we're involved in a lengthy thread about the editing process. Quite a few of the "newbies" are overly sensitive and find are finding the experience painful. Fortunately, I did not have that reaction.

And, another aside: Having read your books, I now find it very difficult to write my second novel. I keep second guessing every phrase, wondering if it's trite.

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D.
www.rabbiavivacohenmysteries.com

Chanukah Guilt, Swimming Kangaroo Books, 2007
Nominated for Deadly Ink Stasher Award for Best Mystery of 2007
One of 2007's Top Ten Reads, www.myshelf.com
Reviewers Choice Book, December, 2007, Reviewers Bookwatch, www.midwestbookreview.com
Talk Dirty Yiddish: Beyond Drek, Adams Media, 2008

Lonnie Cruse said...

Chris, thanks so much for posting on PDD. I've enjoyed spending time with you at a couple of conferences and I love your books!

Chris Roerden said...

Hi Ilene:

I love your books, and I was tickled by your punny titles at our first Malice. You're right; that agent underestimated Midwesterners.

As for second-guessing your phrasing while you're writing, I warn against that on page 1. That's like anticipating Customs while still choosing the destination. But you're one of the few authors who know the right way to twist a trite phrase, and that's why I quote you in DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION.

The sensitivity to editing by the new writers you mention, contrasted with your own professional reaction, is precisely what's emerged during the discussion on this blog. Send those new writers over for the wisdom shared by the many writers, published and yet-to-be, who've been commenting here.

Chris

Chris Roerden said...

Lonnie, thank YOU!

We should tell folks that I quote extracts from two of your mysteries in my own latest book, because they are effective examples of techniques I'd like to make other writers aware of.

Best wishes,
Chris

Alex Matthews said...

Posted for Alex Matthews, author of MURDER'S MADNESS, 9th in the Cassidy McCabe mystery series:

Most of the blind spots you note are not surprising to me at all. There are many people who are hyper sensitive to rejection--people who are often called "thin-skinned." When they experience rejection, they become emotionally overwhelmed and their whole attention gets focused on the negative pieces. They are like perfectionists who may have done something outstanding but can only see the flaws. They often have black/white thinking. My book is wonderful and agents will grab it up or it's worthless and I might as well give up. Many people are far more driven by emotions than reason.

Alex

Chris Roerden said...

I appreciate Alex's explanation. For those who don't know, Alex Matthews is a clinical social worker in private practice, whose crime-solving protagonist, Cassidy McCabe, is also a therapist.

Alex's insights into the human psyche explain why I enjoy her mysteries so much -- as I do the mysteries of psychotherapist Liz Zelvin.

Chris

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