A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


So at 9.50 PM last night, after a thirteen hour day, after a long hard summer with no break beyond one long weekend, and only seconds after finishing the second draft of my latest book, I receive an email.

Couldn't finish book-----editing was so terrible couldn't even understand some of the words.

Presumably from a reader. Presumably about one of my books (and she/he has since confirmed this BTW). Now, we authors of the social media era encourage readers to reach out to us, but what exactly is the point of this email? Do I write back with snark and say my CP and two editors disagree? Do I point out that not all authorial styles, voice, or even grammar, suit all readers? Do I suggest a dictionary to enable the reader to decipher the meaning of all those poorly edited words? Frankly, it's a little disheartening to receive this kind of email, especially at the end of a long day, at the end of another book that made blood-red sweat ooze from my writer pores. Is that what the reader hopes to do by sending me this email--to dishearten me? To make me feel small and worthless? To diminish my work? To maybe make me want to throw my current book in the garbage pile of failure? 

In an odd coincidence I also received an email pointing to a news article that I might find interesting. It was from another reader who once reached out to me--but she reached out about how much she loved and admired my books. This reader has since become a dear friend whose intelligence and drive I admire immensely. 

So--the fact is, as a writer, we can choose how accessible we are. And being accessible means we open the door to criticism and hurt (what human being hasn't experienced that sting in some shape or form?) when someone doesn't like our book (for whatever reason and that is their prerogative). But we also open the door to friendship--truly, amazing friendship. I do appreciate reader email. I even appreciate the negative stuff--just enough to make me human. 

*Apologies for my unedited post. Hope you can understand all the difficult words. (Yes, that was snark).


jean harrington said...

Toni, Total rejection of a book, such as you describe, can be relegated to toilet paper status. Your books are written by someone with a command of the language, has received both developmental and line editing and then is carefully reread a final time for minor problems. Ergo, the criticism doesn't deserve your thoughtful attention. And that's the truth.

jean harrington said...

Sorry, I MUST slow down in writing my posts--books have, not "books has." And then are, not "then is." Geesh. And that's the truth too.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I love your snark, Toni, and sometimes it's very appropriate. This business is hard enough without unhelpful criticism, ESPECIALLY after coming off a difficult round of edits. (I just did that myself on Monday, and I know how burned out my brain is right now.) There are so many things that can discourage writers, which is why people who say they want to publish a book often never do. So many hurdles. Good thing you have wonderful readers, and writers' groups, who will support you, too. :)

Maureen A. Miller said...

Email such as you've mentioned, or one-star reviews in general often require a dictionary, or maybe even a Mayan translator to read. Time to start singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it off." :)

Rita said...

First, was that followed up with another email saying she is an editor and would be happy to edit the book? IMO One should never respond to mail like of that nature. Just say, 'well bless your heart' twirling the middle finger like a wand. Then utter the saying Helen Mirren says she wished she'd said more often and embrace the notion alcohol is a breakfast beverage. Works for me.

Kathy Ivan said...

It's so hard sometimes to refrain from responding to these types of e-mails, because you want to ask them what was the point of sending something like that? Even with multiple beta readers, and multiple edits, some things slip through the cracks. We are human beings. Heck, even machines make mistakes. Just because this person may not have enjoyed the book, there wasn't any need to say it was riddled with errors or there was poor editing. Likely she was looking for an excuse to justify her own inadequacies and lack of command or understanding of grammar and the English Language.

Unfortunately in our chosen profession, we're going to be under a microscope with some people, who take great joy in trying to tear us down. Do your best not to focus on this one negative Nelly and look at all the glowing 5 star reviews you've gotten for the same book, and then consider the source.

I had someone contact me once, saying one of my books was riddled with typos. Then she helpfully told me exactly where they were. She found ONE, where I'd put "it" instead of "in." That was the only one for the entire book, and she felt it was imperative that she let me know my book was full of typos. I close my eyes, say a quick bless your heart, and keep writing.

Toni Anderson said...

Thanks, guys. I appreciate all the good advice. I do count my blessings and I know we've all been there. Life's too short :)

"Shake it off" :)

Elise Warner said...

Enjoy your great reviews, take a portion of your royalties and take your hubby to dinner after you "Shake it off."

Marcelle Dubé said...

Or, your could just tell them to piss off.

Sandy Parks said...

If it wasn't so irritating, I'd laugh. My guess is the person wanted to be noticed. Your books are super. And we all understand the brain fry times. Recently I sent an email to the chair of a conference and mentioned the "word" count of people attending. She sent back a smiley face and said "you're a writer aren't you?"

Julie Mofftt said...

Hugs, my friend. Embrace the snark. It keeps us sane. oxo

Toni Anderson said...


Clare London said...

Good grief. But then, I've had those responses as well, and I *know* I'm pretty good at grammar and vocabulary (while trying to avoid purple prose *g*).But your main point is very valid - why do people feel they have to post these things publicly? It's perfectly ok if a book didn't work for you, perfectly ok if an author's style doesn't gel. But there's so often this implication that the book is "wrong" somehow, when it's not - it's just different from the reader's previous experience or preference. And wasn't there something *great* they could have found to comment on instead or as well as?! *sigh*.

Snark is good, keeps us sane :).

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