Showing posts with label dealing with editors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dealing with editors. Show all posts

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!

01 March 2014

Giving Credit to the Editors

by John M. Floyd

I once heard a fellow writer say she had an "epic editor." Assuming she didn't mean "the editor of an epic," I like the term. I could probably use epic, as in "heroic" or "grand," to describe some of the magazine and anthology editors I've worked with in the past twenty years. (Well, heroic might be a stretch, but you get my drift. Worked with is also debatable; in many cases they were merely kind enough to publish what I wrote.)

Twenty years, though, is accurate. The first short story I ever submitted was accepted in January 1994, and appeared in Mystery Time magazine. Editor Linda Hutton is retired now, but she did me a huge favor: she taught me that selling short crime/suspense stories was at least possible. She enclosed a five-dollar bill in the envelope with the acceptance letter, and I remember staring at it as if I'd been handed the Hope Diamond. I went on to publish something in every issue of Mystery Time for the next eight years.

Editor indebtedness

Linda was the first of a number of editors I've come in contact with, and they've taught me a lot. Some of them I never knew well, but others became advisors and even friends. And I can honestly say most were professional and fair in their dealings with writers. Here are some editors, in no particular order, who were or have been extremely kind to me:

Margo Power, Murderous Intent
Andrew McAleer, Crimestalker Casebook
Linda Landrigan, AHMM
Marcia Preston, Byline Magazine
Babs Lakey, Futures
John Hart, Amazon Shorts
Andrew Gulli, The Strand Magazine
Darlene Poier, Pages of Stories
Tony Burton, Wolfmont Press anthologies
Ginger Johnson, Detective Mystery Stories
Janet Hutchings, EQMM
Sherri Armel, Red Herring Mystery Magazine
Johnene Granger, Woman's World
B. J. Bourg, Mouth Full of Bullets
Charity Bishop, Prairie Times
Philip Levin, Gulf Coast anthologies
Patrick Perry, The Saturday Evening Post
Donna Bowman, Short Stuff for Grown-ups
Sandra Ruttan, Spinetingler Magazine
Joseph DeMarco, Mysterical-E
Andrew Perkins, Grit
Jay Hartman, Untreed Reads
Richard Heagy, Orchard Press Mysteries
Cheri Jung, Over My Dead Body
Marvin Kaye, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine

At least half a dozen of those publications are no longer around, but I'm thinking Rob, Janice, Eve, Herschel, and others might remember them.

Letters from the editors

I was asked not long ago if I'd had any interesting experiences in dealing with magazine editors. I could think of only a few, because I try hard not to annoy editors, and when they tell me to do something I just salute and do it. Here are some unusual things that I do recall:

- A few months after I sold Andy McAleer a story for Crimestalker, he suggested that we collaborate on a mystery short. He wrote the first half and I wrote the second, and he immediately submitted it to AHMM under both our names. It was rejected even more immediately.

- Johnene Granger published two of my mysteries in Woman's World with someone else's byline. In fact, it was the same name both times: Elizabeth Hawn. In both instances Johnene phoned me afterward to apologize for the error, but since I'd been paid for the stories I didn't mind. I only hope Ms. Hawn, whoever she is, liked them.

- Loren Logsdon, then editor of Eureka Literary Magazine, wrote in an acceptance letter that the ending to the story I'd sent them was "the best she and her staff had seen in years." After publishing it, they rejected everything else I ever sent them.

- Linda Hutton of Mystery Time once asked me to change the expression "he cut his eyes at her" in one of my submissions to her magazine. She said she'd never heard that phrase before and figured readers hadn't either. I just cut my eyes at my wife, changed the sentence to "he gave her a sneaky look," and all was well.

- Andrew Gulli of The Strand once phoned me to ask where I'd gotten the name of the poison I'd used to kill the villain in a story I'd submitted to him (actually, the first story I ever sold to them). I told him I'd made it up. He paused for what I thought was a frighteningly long time, then said, "Okay."

- The late Cathleen Jordan, the editor of AHMM before Linda Landrigan, once published three of my stories in a period of four months (the March, May, and June 1999 issues). After celebrating--and telling myself that maybe I'd found the goose that laid the golden egg--I received at least a dozen AH rejections in a row.

- Last year I received a contract by mistake from Janet Hutchings at EQMM for something someone else had written. Unlike many of my SleuthSayers colleagues, I usually receive only rejections from EQ, so it was especially hard to make myself confess to her that I was not the lucky (and deserving) party.

For the writers among us, what are some of your experiences with editors, agents, publishers, etc.? Have you found most of them to be pleasant? Knowledgable? Accessible? Demanding? Who are/were some of your favorites?

Your wish is my command . . .

Anytime I get into a discussion like this, I'm reminded of the old saying, "Most editors are failed writers--but then again, so are most writers." I love that quote. I think it's also a reminder that editors and other head freds in the publishing world, revered though they might be, are just regular people like you and me. They have their own preferences, faults, and pet peeves.

And as long as they guard the gates that I'm trying to pass through, I will indeed salute, click my heels, and do what they tell me.