05 August 2014

The Unsung Editor

   Our followers will remember author Angela Zeman who graced the pages of Criminal Brief. She and I appeared together in the Mystery Writers of America anthology, The Prosecution Rests.
   Angela is not only a wonderful writer, but she married the amazing Barry Zeman who, in a leather jacket, is my idea of what Mickey Spillane should look like. Can you imagine inspiration in your life like that?
   But she has editors on her mind and I’ll let her tell you about that.

        — Leigh Lundin

Angela Zeman
The Unsung Editor

by Angela Zeman

Hello! It’s been forever since I’ve checked in on SleuthSayers, thanks, Leigh for the invitation. When browsing your blogs, I detected that nobody here has been idle. (Elementary, heh heh.)  Most of you know that for several years, back and disc issues have disrupted my writing and my life. But tah-dah, it’s over. Well, I’ve had to stop leaping tall buildings. But I’m content with short hops. So, friends, to all directly concerned with my production (you know who you are) whatever I promised you… it’s going to arrive late. But I’m on it, no worries.

I’ve managed in these last few years to publish short stories. I’m especially proud of the Roxanne story that made the cover of Alfred Hitchcock two years ago. (I owe Linda more Roxanne stories, which are next on my agenda after Mary Higgins Clark’s Wall Street story.) Linda Landrigan, known by many, is as shrewd as she is skilled, and a lovely person to work with. I thanked the late Cathleen Jordan after she published my first Mrs. Risk story in AHMM. Her editing smoothed out tiny rough spots and I was delighted with the results. And so unfair. I got all the credit.

Do editors receive awards from their writers? I don’t know. They should. They work away from the spotlight and are so under-appreciated. Before I began to sell my work, I’d heard only campfire tales of destructive, ignorant, to-be-dreaded EDITORS. What editors were those?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Linda Landrigan would’ve won for most patient of all editors (in my experience) had not Kate White come into my life. She was in the process of editing the next MWA cookbook, to which I had agreed pre-surgery to contribute. Poor woman, I told her (post-surgery), “No, I’m sorry, I can’t write, I may never write again. I can barely think.” She cajoled, charmed, nudged, and finally threatened me, via a series of phone calls, to get going! She declared with impressive intensity (she might’ve been gritting her teeth) she’d write my cookbook entry herself if she had to! Kate White went further and worked harder (on me, I don’t know about any of the other contributors) than any editor should have to. She virtually kicked me back into my chair. And here I sit, thrilled to be here, thanks to Ms. White.

I don’t want to forget the Tekno books guys. Marty, Jon, all of them. One time I went ballistic and they listened. And fixed the problem. They treated me with respect and a writer could talk to them. I miss Tekno and Marty.

MWA The Prosecution Rests
About five years ago, I wrote a story titled “Bang” for the Linda Fairstein The Prosecution Rests anthology Leigh mentioned in my introduction. The bad guy shot at my heroine. I wrote “bang!” He missed my girl, which was good, but the bullet was the only solid proof among circumstantial evidence of his guilt. We really needed that bullet. A little note scribbled in the margin asked: “You fired the gun, shouldn’t the bullet land somewhere?” Michael Connolly’s editor. I never met her, but I’ll never forget! She saved me from shriveling embarrassment. One small comment from a shrewd editor saved the story. I’ll bet several authors here have similar editors to whom they owe kudos and thanks.

So here’s to the world’s heroic editors: may they prosper and increase, and may they earn the praise and pay they truly deserve for snatching their writers from the dark and stormy night!


  1. Amen to all your comments on Linda Landrigan!
    Good editors are rare and getting rarer in today's publishing.

  2. Angela, it's great to see you here. I'd forgotten how much I missed your columns, and your insight.

    Linda Landrigan is indeed one of the best editors around. I didn't think anyone could ever match Cathleen Jordan, but Linda's wonderful.

  3. Let me put in a plug for Janet Hutchings over at EQMM--great editor and a kind and tolerant person!

    Great piece, Angela! Thanks.

  4. Angela, I'm 100% with you on Linda Landrigan, and the late, great Cathleen Jordan who published my first story with AHMM. By the way, I remember reading your Roxanne story - I loved it. Yes, get more of those out there!

  5. Agree fully with praise for Linda and Janet. They are the best!

  6. Maybe I read and saw too many stories with snarling Perry White / John Jonah Jameson, Jr editors. I'm still a novice, but I pray my editor-to-be is half as wonderful as these described.

  7. I continue the refrain– I love Janet and Linda. The editor's name at Tekno eludes me for the moment, but he also was patient and great to work with.

    Thanks, Angela!

  8. I believe it was Martin Greenberg and Ed Gorman at Tekno.

  9. Used to write for building industry magazines and their editors butchered articles so badly, they'd sometimes change the meaning.

  10. John Heflers! That's the patient editor at Tekno Books. I was still in an early learning phase and came up with nearly as many edits as he did as we batted them back and forth.

    I also add Darlene Poier and her editor of Ficta Fubla and Pages of Stories.

  11. Angela wants to let readers (and writers) know she tried to answer each and every comment, but her blogging browser has been having a snit. She sends her appreciation for taking the time to read and respond.

    Thanks, Angela1


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