Friday, February 13, 2015

Appearing in issue #6, February 9, 2015

Title:  The comic book killer

By Author:  Ryan P. Casey


Tag line:    Why was there never a comic book superhero around when you needed one?  

Police characters:   Sgt. Todd Banks, Det. Liz Sheridan

The gist:    The story begins with the two cops standing over the draped body, talking about comic books they used to own.  The body of Randall Evans, owner of the Comic Relief book store was found on the floor behind the cash register, the victim of a single bullet to the chest.  No weapon was found.  The call came in around 3:00 from his assistant, Isabelle.  She was the only other person in the shop besides the killer. The cop who loves comic books noted that Evans had just acquired a rare comic book, mint condition, well worth over a hundred grand.  The cop said he would have killed to have a look at it.  It was kept behind the register in a locked drawer.  Evans wore the key around his neck.  Isabelle, who is Goth, said she was in the back room sorting stock when she heard the front door bell.  She said she heard voices, then a loud bang like a gunshot.   She stepped out from the back room just as someone was making his way out the front door. She saw him as he ran past the front window.  She described him as tall, wearing a blue jacket with some writing across the back (some sports team she thought), a red baseball cap, dark jeans, blonde hair in a ponytail.   She said he had a scar running from the corner of his lip to his chin.   She found the body and called the police. She did not see where the man ran to.

As the cops left, the cop who loved comics picked up a book and said he wanted to buy it for his collection and asked how much it cost.  Isabelle squinted and walked closer, asking, “Which one is it?” 

The cops knew she was the killer.

Crime scene:    Comic book store.

Clues:    The detailed description Isabelle was able to give, and the fact that she can’t see well.

Suspects:   Isabelle or some random dude.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Isabelle had shot her boss for the pricey comic book and made up a story about a robber, but she overdid it with the description seeing as how she can hardly see two feet in front of her.

My two cents:    This one was pretty easy.  Let me change that.  This one was too easy.  No challenge. 

Now, let’s talk cops.  Pretty callous to stand over a dead body and chit chat about what comic books you loved as a child.  Pretty thoughtless to say he’d kill for a peek at the rare book.  Pretty dumb to handle a comic book at a crime scene and try to buy it.  Pretty stupid to walk out the door leaving behind a store worker and a dead body on the floor; must have been donut time.   Pretty clumsy not to call in crime scene to dust the door.  (By the way Crime Scene would have done a gunshot residue test on her right off the bat.) Pretty sad the cops didn’t even think about getting video surveillance from any of the neighboring stores.  Bottom line; this story was pretty awful.

I don’t know why it was important to tell us Isabelle is Goth.  The story gave a good description right down to her black nail polish.  So I guess all Goth people are suspects now?  

How do we know she was the only other person in the shop besides the killer?

This was a clumsy read, the pacing was off, the clue was abysmal, and the characters sucked.  We don’t even have a real motive other than she must be evil because she’s Goth.  No stars.  None. 

Vacation is over.  No more Ms. Nice Guy.


Susan said...

She saw him going out the door and was able to describe the back of his jacket and the scar on his face. Back and front? Dead giveaway that it was her. Not one of my favs for all the reasons you listed, Jodi.

Mary Jo said...

Good grief, if she wanted the comic book, why not just lift it when the boss wasn't looking? Did she need to kill him for it? Probably a lot of pricey comics passed through the shop. Sorry, a poor story. Who is choosing these over some that you know are better? It makes you wonder if the editors are so pressed for time, they don't have time to edit.

Chris said...

Been waiting to see your review of this, Jody. Mary Jo and I discussed it when she sent me the scan and although I liked the set up I felt too many words were wasted on the description of Goth girl, which could have been used to provide us with another suspect or two. Since the mag is only kept in a locked drawer, shooting the poor guy for it seemed a tad excessive. And where did the gun come from? Do people in America routinely takes guns to work?

I'd have liked the clue to be better executed. When imaginary guy walks out of the shop, if she'd said he turned left and she then described a scar on his right cheek, that would have proved she was lying. Not being able to read the title of a magazine as opposed to describing a full sized human being proves nothing. This one had potential but lacked polishing for me.

Julia said...

Agree with you Jody, and with all the above comments. I wonder if the EIC is looking for male writers, we have seen several men's names lately and they have not all been great. This one certainly wasn't. Chris - gun laws vary from state to state and some people do carry guns to work quite as a matter of course. Some people keep them in their cars too. In lockers at work sometimes. (Remember I was a news reporter and nuts make news. Sadly, nuts often carry guns.)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Susan. Yeah, she really overdid the description. The whole story was overdone IMO. Someday the killer really WILL be the guy who ran out the door. Now there's a twist WW won't see coming. :)

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo, I agree. Just steal it. She's awfully young to be killing people for money. Also the story had no motive. Other than she was Goth. Geesh.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. A lot of little store owners keep a handgun under the counter for protection. Sad but true. I only hope I don't get caught in the crossfire some day when I'm just stopping in for milk.

I agree with you about the description. She could easily see the red cap and shirt with letters (she didn't see what kind of letters) but when she talked about the scar, it was too much seeing as how she doesn't see well and the guy was leaving quickly. I supposed if it was some horrific big red scar she might have caught a glimpse as he ran, but the whole thing was poorly executed. When you only have one real suspect, the details better be interesting and believable. These were not. I did a lot of eye rolling...

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Julie. Yes, there does seem to be a glut of male writers. Maybe we should submit under a pen name, a male pen name.

My least favorite part of this story was the police. They were so inappropriate and clueless and tacky. Imagine a sergeant trying to buy something from the shocked witness as her boss lay bloody and dead on the floor? Oh, here, I'll just ring that up for you, let me step over the body here. Good grief, man. What was this author thinking?

Julia said...

Jody - I "googled" the name and I think I found him: he's a young dancer performing in the Boston area. He has a couple of things "published" on the net. Probably hasn't had much to do with the police. Other than us: the mystery/creative writing police.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Julia.
When I write a story about a couple in the 1940s, I do my homework. I look things up. I find out what life was like and how people talked. I get photos of their clothes, their homes. We do research so we can write a seamless story that's also accurate for the time period.

Ditto for hospital stories, or stories set in Alaska. Or stories about astronauts or ballerinas.

If this author doesn't know anything about cops, then he shouldn't be writing cop stories. The fact that WW bought it, just boggles the mind. It's really quite discouraging.

PS the Captcha thingy is acting up again.

Julia said...

Jody - of course YOU do research; as a professional and a grown-up you know anything published under your name reflects back on you. Ryn doesn't know that yet. My theory that WW cuts male writers slack is beginning to sound too true for comfort. Isn't "Jody" used for both genders? (I guess I could add and "N" to the end of my name: Julia to Julian and see what happens.

Jujlia said...

Sorry, I meant to type "Ryan" but dropped the "a" by mistake.

Mary Jo said...

Ah, ah, Jody. The Spanish word in your rating line is nada, not nadda. Just sayin'.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. Oops... it's been corrected. Thanks.

Tamara said...

I've had some mysteries rejected that might have had fewer holes--I'm sure some of you are saying the same thing--and I'm not that good with the genre. They must be rejecting some good ones.
Anyway, between "Oh, here, I'll just ring that up for you, let me step over the body here" and "the mystery/creative writing police" I've had my comic relief today.

Mary Jo said...

I think these tiny mysteries are very difficult to write and make any real sense. I looked up Ryan's name after I read Julia's reference, and now I feel really bad. If it is the same Ryan, he is just a young guy with a number of talents. He appears to be about seven feet tall and tapped his way onto So You Think You Can Dance. He has a computer and typed his way onto the WW mini-mystery page. Now, they say he is a school teacher. I do hope he finds his true niche. He appears to be such a nice guy. So good luck to you, Ryan. I am sure the ladies here wish you well. Try to take our comments as constructive critcism.

Chris said...

All feedback should be viewed that way, don't you think? Even comments that don't glow with praise have value, as long as they are pointing out why something didn't work for that particular person in a fair and reasonable way. The author can agree or disagree but if someone who knows their stuff (ie, someone who also writes, or has experience in a particular field), has taken the trouble to explain their thought process, then it's worth consideration.

In these two blogs, Jody's and Kate's, we're commenting on stories that have been published and paid for. Although that's not quite the same as reading your work out at a writers' circle prior to submission, the feedback offered is still intended to be helpful, not spiteful.

We all know Jody can get quite hot under the collar about some of the slip ups in police procedure and it's sometimes our job to press the damp towel of 'cosy crime' to her forehead and say we don't really mind if it wouldn't happen in real life because it's not meant to be real. We do that with a twinkle in the eye, nothing nasty intended, and a story that generates a lot of traffic, as this one is doing, has certainly earned its stripes. If everyone that sends a cop story to WW has to know all about cops, Jody, I suspect that will rule out the majority of your bloggers from submitting anything. I do my best to get the facts right, checking info online and asking people such as yourself what would happen if... but I'm sure that the vast majority of WW's readers aren't going to give two hoots whether a cop would do this, or say that, they just want five minutes entertainment before they start the dinner.

I know what you mean, Mary Jo. I also checked this author out (the name is so specific if just has to be him). He has an impressive CV, both in dance and writing, and is clearly multi-talented. So while I believe in honesty when leaving a comment, it's also good to remember that these are real people whose stories we are critiquing - someone's sister, someone's son. Not a bad thing to bear in mind when we engage in this sort of banter.

Julia said...

Chris - what a thoughtful and carefully worded response you posted this morning. I think I will print it out and keep a copy for future reference . . . just in case I ever sell anything to WW, and need a little shelter from the storm of commentary. I admit to feeling a sort of almost "motherly" pride in Ryan Casey, although I don't know him or anything about him but what I found on the net. He strikes me as such an energetic, ambitious and hard worker I feel sure success is in his stars, even though I agree with Jody et. al. that this particular story fell pretty flat.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@Chris. " -- it's sometimes our job to press the damp towel of 'cosy crime' to her forehead."

Love this line. You made me smile this morning. :)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara. Maybe they're supposed to be funny?? I never thought of that. If that's the case, this one is hysterical.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. Well, I hope he's got this writing career thing out of his system and he moves on to other things. Maybe he can be an astronaut next. Or he could swim with the sharks. Maybe he'll become a Las Vegas poker player. Oo-oo, I know, he can have his own reality show about doing a little bit of everything in the world.

You know those guys your dad wouldn't let you date because he can't hold a job? This guy is one of them. :)

All you kind hearted women out there want to mother him. I want to kick his ass, but as he's 7-feet tall I won't be able to reach. I'm gonna go find me a ladder.....

Jody E. Lebel said...
"Gumshoes and Tap Shoes"

ahhhh... this is all starting to make sense now.

I believe it IS supposed to be funny.

Sheds a whole different light on the story.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Comment from Marcia B. Siegel about Ryan:

"For a would-be writer, painter, choreographer, it takes a while to find your voice. Lots of trial and error, poking around in the murk of your ideas, learning what works and what doesn’t."

I do believe we will be hearing more from Mr. Casey in the future. He's got 'energy'.

Tamara said...

It was your comments I found funny, Jody. I'm a fan of sarcastic humor, and your column is pure comedy sometimes.

Mary Jo said...

Ah, come on, Jody. Your little ol' bod' is sorely lacking in mean bones. I take your excellent blog as a teaching tool, and I hope your other followers can do the same.

Also, as Tamara has commented, your style of humor shines through. Have you ever done stand up? I hear Florida is the land of opportunity for it.

And, Ryan, if you are out there, throw in your two cents' worth.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. No standup for me. No karaoke either. I'll save my comedy for writing. My novels have quite a bit of humor in them. With my job, it's laugh or cry, so I choose to laugh.

Someone could invite Ryan to visit the blog. Just warn him first. :)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. And you're right. I don't do it to be mean. I wasn't the mean girl in high school. I was a nerd actually and at lunch I sat at the geek table.

Anonymous said...

This is what I found out about Ryan Casey on his Amazon acct. I don't think he's a slacker:

Ryan Casey is the author of over a dozen novels and an Amazon bestselling serial. He writes in various genres, such as thrillers, mysteries, horror and science-fiction. Across all genres, Casey is renowned for his dark, page-turning suspense, his unforgettably complex characters, and his knockout twists. His ongoing series are the bestselling Dead Days post-apocalyptic serial, the Brian McDone mysteries and the Blake Dent thrillers.

Casey lives in the United Kingdom. He has a BA degree in English with Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham, and has been writing stories for as long as he can remember. In his spare time, he enjoys American serial television, is a slave to Pitchfork's Best New Music section, and wastes far too much of his life playing Football Manager games.

For more information on Ryan's books, visit

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris He's from the UK!!! (I know, right? 3 !) If he can do it from across the pond, you can do it.


Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Anonymous. Good for him. Seriously. Good for him. But this story is a stinker.

By the way, if you want to check him out this book is free on Kindle.

Chris said...

I'm confused... according to the website I looked on Ryan is teaching at Boston Uni. That's one heck of a commute each day if he lives in the UK, the traffic on the M4 to Heathrow's murder in the morning!

He's also got a gig coming up on 7th March at the Bijou Theatre, Bridgeport, CT and that's Connecticut, right? Where did the UK connection come in?

I'll tell you what, though, as a way of raising his profile, this story's working brilliantly!

Mary Jo said...

The writer of this little mystery is Ryan P. Casey, not Ryan Casey. They are two different people, obviously. My bet is on the young dancer/writer/teacher all American boy.

Julia said...

Mary Jo and Chris - yes, I am pretty sure Ryan P. Casey, the author of this story, is the dancer, young and living in the greater Boston area. No way has he written a series of successful novels. Not OUR Ryan!

Ryan P. Casey said...

I'm sorry to hear some of you didn't like my story. I've written other mysteries for the magazine, and submitted even more than that, and I can never be sure what the editors will or will not accept. As with any publication, as those of you with publishing experience will know, you try to write what you think the editors will buy -- what is most fitting for that venue.

As a longtime mystery buff, I write these stories for fun when I can, share them with a mentor of mine, and submit a few now and then. I don't do research, I don't aim for technical accuracy; I'm not writing for one of TV ubiquitous crime shows. I'm writing a short mystery story for Woman's World, and I try to make it lighthearted and not too difficult. That's based on what I like to write and also on my experience with the editors at WW.

So, I'm sorry to hear some people didn't like it, or that others are disappointed that I didn't do more research. As in my dance career, I can't please everyone, but I try my best. This discussion is certainly interesting (to say the least).

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Ryan. Thank you for stopping by. It's a badge of courage to be sliced and diced in this blog. Welcome to the fold.

As you may or may not know, I come from a legal/law background, and am on a police procedure error faster than a bum on a can of beans. You can't please everyone but you managed to please Johnene and the EIC at WW and I'm sure you enjoyed your royalty check.

Also, people read this blog to be entertained. I can't do that if I gush over every story. So I've set Jody's Standards and that's how I roll. And keep in mind that this story is being compared to others that have sold and that skews the grading curve.

Please tell us what kinds of changes WW made to your story. We always find those details fascinating. The followers of this blog are aspiring WW story writers. Or I should say we aspire to get a contract for our own stories. This is the purpose of this site; to see what works and what doesn't. But we are finding out that that is hard to pin down when one week the story seems weak and the next it comes over as brilliant. Our best guess is that WW is trying to please everyone by offering a little bit of everything.

I wish you the best and hope I get to dissect another one of your WW stories in the near future.

PS Your tap dancing play looked quite interesting. You are one talented guy, I'll give you that. :)

Julia said...

Dear Ryan,

You're one classy guy to respond to this blog. Welcome and thanks for showing up here. I hope you will feel free to join in discussing some of OUR published works. Good luck in all your creative endeavors.

Mary Jo said...

See, Ryan, you're OUR guy. All of us could take a lesson from what you had to say about writing what WW wants. Have you ever noticed that women generally like to "fix" things? So I suspect we are more inclined to submit the kind of stories that WE would like to read. Well, I admit that I am. Men writers are usually more pragmatic...and richer, I guess.

We don't see many tap dancers these days, so I am glad you won't let the art die. The percussion of those steps is primordial and resonates with all of us. I told my friend Chris in the UK that dancers who do tap and jig must have the cardiac capacity of a lion...or a hyena. Best of luck with your upcoming shows.

If you have published more of these little mysteries with WW, I wonder if Jody has reviewed them.

Chris said...

Ryan, that was brave. I am so pleased to see your name here. How did you get to hear of the discussion - did you stumble over it by chance, or did someone give you the heads up?

You are so right - you have to write what the magazine wants to see to stand any chance at all. I've been trying to do that with Woman's World for years now, but so far no luck. My style is 'too British' for them, despite all the feedback I get from my email friends. Thankfully there are other magazines around the world that do accept my oh-so-English style.

You mention having a mentor to read your stories through before you send them. I hope it's not a family member. No disrespect but in my experience they tend to think everything we write is wonderful. I belong to two writers' circles and they are very useful for ironing out those crinkles that every story contains when it's first written. Getting a fellow writer, or impartial person, to give feedback about what doesn't make sense to them, or what needs to be tweaked, can make all the difference.

Reading this blog must have been quite painful, given the mix of opinion. But I saw the So You Think You Can Dance clip, so you're used to constructive criticism, right? (Just KNEW Nigel Lythgoe would mention a basketball the minute he saw you, groan).

Good luck for your gig next month and, like the others, I hope we'll see your name on here again.

Mary Ann said...

I was going to comment earlier, but was just watching this train wreck coming, and then it kept coming and coming...first of all, I didn't think this story was as bad as many of you thought. (And I'm not just jumping in here because the author himself visited the blog.)Yes, the clue was a bit obvious, and I thought that the crime didn't have to be murder. The suspect could just have stolen the comic book. But I loved the whole premise. It was fun to read, and WW bought it. Jody, you have professional knowledge about police procedure, but it's obvious that WW doesn't hold that much regard for "doing it all by the book." These stories aren't being read by people who investigate murders for a living, they are being read mostly by middle-aged women who just want to zip through a solve-it-yourself. I know what you'll say, "But shouldn't they follow the rules?" Obviously, that's not first and foremost on the editor's minds. And I for one, want to SELL my stories. So if I slip up, (which I'm sure I did in the 2 mysteries I've sold) I really don't mind, as long as the check is headed my way, and I've had a little bit of fun writing the story, and hopefully entertaining someone who reads it. I thought Ryan's story was entertaining. When you go off the rails, and talk about him not holding a job or something, it might seem a bit funny to some,and perhaps that's part of your purpose here, but it comes across as a bit nasty and probably sour grapes, too. Have you sold a mystery story yet? Maybe you should be taking note of his style? When you go off like that it's not really constructive. Just my opinion.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann

Sarcastic humor is my thing. Not everybody gets its. Not everybody likes it. If you want to read gushing OMG I JUST LOVED THIS STORY, you'll have to visit Kate's blog.

When a story is well written but it has police problems, it gets 4 stars. Four stars is a good rating in my view. This story didn't measure up in any of the five areas I give stars for. None of them. Not one.

Not every movie gets good reviews from the critics. Some get slammed pretty hard, yet most are okay movies that many people like. Bad reviews and all, everybody still got a check. Same with books. Same with these stories. There are almost perfect stories in WW and there are stories that downright stink. In my view.

Ryan's site talks about him dabbling in many things. He can't seem to pick one he truly loves. That was the reason for my post about not keeping a job and maybe he should try being a train conductor or an fashion designer. Whatever. As my teenage niece says.

I don't have sour grapes. I wished the man well, I just wished he had produced a better story this time around. I have sold two romances and, as you know, have yet to sell a mystery. I will not be writing his style. Nor will I copy John Floyd's style. Cuz... well, it's not my style. Sooner or later one of my submissions will get the okay. They all make it to Johnene.

I slice and dice these stories. I don't give constructive criticism. If an author wants my constructive criticism I offer to edit their story for a price.

Mary Ann said...

I love sarcasm! I just don't think when you said this, it was sarcastic or fun, but rather it seemed mean-spirited (see above):

"@Mary Jo. Well, I hope he's got this writing career thing out of his system and he moves on to other things. Maybe he can be an astronaut next. Or he could swim with the sharks. Maybe he'll become a Las Vegas poker player. Oo-oo, I know, he can have his own reality show about doing a little bit of everything in the world.

You know those guys your dad wouldn't let you date because he can't hold a job? This guy is one of them. :)

All you kind hearted women out there want to mother him. I want to kick his ass, but as he's 7-feet tall I won't be able to reach. I'm gonna go find me a ladder....."

I can take the hits, too, aimed at me, so fire away, but to shoot someone down so easily (and not really just his writing, which this is supposed to be about) is not cool, in my opinion. I just think, if it was my first published story, I'd like to not be so easily skewered, and would want to celebrate it. I was thrilled when WW took my first story. I'm not saying it can't be criticized, (and Kate didn't give me a "gushing OMG review" for it either, just so you know) but I didn't feel like I was hit over the head either.

Anyone else have any opinions about this topic, or are you all afraid Jody may some day skewer you, too? I am up for the challenge! (Alas, my last subbed mystery story got a reject from the Editor in Chief so I won't be up for awhile. It was an October submission just to keep everyone in the loop.)

Mary Ann said...

P.S. I am easy-going by nature, and I have a pretty good sense of humor and don't get offended easily. I think your column in often funny. However this time, I'm afraid to me they seemed to come from the girl who didn't make the team, so she decided to make fun of the weight, hair, teeth of the girls who did.

Julia said...

Dear Mary Ann,
I am retired but wrote non-fiction for a living for a long time and I can honestly say that, the tougher the editor was, the better my writing became. Recently, I have sent in a couple of mystery stories to WW and have not heard back yet. I'm torn between really wanting to sell them and fear of reading what Jody will say about them. I like her blog and I think I'd like her if I met her. Being over 70, retired, busy with family and living on a limited income, I am not hiring Jody to pre-review my work. I can't afford it for one thing, and, for another, I write fiction for mental exercise and fun. But if I were younger and just starting out (like Ryan) I believe I would hire Jody. I think it would be a wise investment. She is sharp and doesn't waste words. BTW, I stopped reading kate's blog a while back because, although she sounds like a darling person, she is really a bit too nice to be helpful. She does not elucidate. Jody does. I don't think she's a "mean girl." Just honest and direct and businesslike. Another BTW - What train wreck are you talking about? This blog is interesting, informative and educational. Nobody got wrecked.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. Well, girl, I can't control how you interpret things. I poke fun at everyone. And when it gets done to me, I take it right back. Not everyone can handle it, I know. I do have a sharp tongue and I am sarcastic, but just for the record I did make the team... twice. I don't hold back on a poorly written story because the author is new or young or sensitive. Don't want bad reviews? Write a good story that can't be torn apart.

You said you can take hits... well, maybe he can also. He has been on some very competitive dance shows. His response on this blog didn't sound to me like he was wounded. He admitted to not doing any research. One of the reviewers for his tap dance detective show said the same thing, that the cops were off. Maybe he'll put more realism in his next work because of this. Or -- maybe not since WW likes the foolishness of these types of stories.

The only thing I take exception to is your challenge for others to chime in and agree with you unless they're afraid I'll be vindictive and skewer them. Not my style. A good story is a good story is a good story. Period. Ask Herschel Cozine. I hated one of this stories and loved one. And he gave me tons of shit, argued vehemently with me, and called me names. I still gave him 5 stars when his story merited it. If anything, I'm a bit less snarky with people I know.

Mary Ann said...

@Julia Train wrecks can be really interesting. I'm not saying that. I've been reading this blog for awhile. It's just that the blog seemed to go "off the tracks" a bit when the review of the writer's words turned into a review of his life. You think we needed to hear how this guy jumps around from job to job? How he's "7 feet tall." What does that have to do with his story? I say, critique the story, not the person. And also, really, why would Ryan hire Jody, when he's had a story picked to be published and she hasn't? I'm not saying she can't help him, but would you pay someone to help you if you did something they're still trying to accomplish? Everyone can use help, from reviewers, a writer's circle, an editor, an expert in the field. But c'mon,he did something the editors at WW already liked. Of course, he will get better with practice. Just like I did when Kate gave my first story a blah review. It was an okay story, but looking back, I tried again and again and I think I got better at writing what WW was looking for, and my reviews did get better. But if she said something like, "it was the work of a midget with bad hair who shouldn't write anymore," (because she checked me out on a site or something) I don't think I'd respect that.

Mary Ann said...

@Jody - I read your blog all the time and I usually like your sense of humor. I am quite similar probably. But, like I said, I think this time it was a little off. Not really about the "writing" after awhile.
And sorry if I got the information wrong. I thought you never sold a mini-mystery to WW. Sorry about that.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. A couple of people on here looked him up and posted about all the other stuff he does, and that prompted more comments from me. You think I crossed the line? Okay, fair enough. We all have our limits. I welcome your comments (about me, the blog, and the stories on here) any time, no matter what the tone. Debate is good and lessons can be learned from the reactions and comments of others. Ryan is very young, talented, ambitious, and has lots of energy. We'll be seeing his name again in some artistic arena somewhere.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Ann... let me correct something. I've sold two romance stories to WW. I've yet to hit on a mystery. Though God knows why cuz they're freakin' brilliant. hahaha

Anonymous said...

@Julia, why do you think Jody can help you do something she hasn't managed to do herself? And I have to agree with Mary Ann, this so-called "critique" got way too personal and mean-spirited. Where's the humor? What's the point? Book and movie reviewers are helping consumers make choices about what to buy, but this blog "reviews" a product that's no longer for sale. The story may be good or bad, which is a very subjective thing, but the author doesn't need a critique.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Julia. Thanks for chiming in, but I understand that Mary Ann thinks I got too personal. She spoke up when she perceived a bit of what she thought was bully-like behavior. You gotta respect that. It doesn't change my review, but the exchange of ideals was interesting. I don't hold any grudges for anyone who doesn't agree with me. In fact, I like to be challenged once in a while. Keeps my knife edge sharp. :)

I swear, I need to invent a sarcasm font.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Anony. I may not be a police officer, but I can tell you how they act and think and work. I may not be a doctor, but I can tell you how to deliver a baby. I may not be a student, but I can tell you how to study and outline a chapter. Don't write me off as useless because I've only sold romances to WW and have yet to get a mystery contract. It will happen. I know the 'how'. It's just a matter of tickling Johnene's fancy. The publishing industry is a fickle bi*ch. One day she loves silliness. One day she wants it hard. Just my luck to show up on the day she wants it light with a serious story. Other magazines have bought my mysteries. I've sold two of them to anthologies. So ease up.

As far as me going too far... see comments above. I wasn't trying to prove anything in particular of a personal nature. I was commenting on his lack of ability to stick with one project or career. I'm not the first critic to point that out. Someone even called him a 'would-be' writer which I don't think they can say anymore now that he's got WW under his belt. He's young. He's dabbling. This is the age to do that. He'll find his passion. But right now he's all over the map. When you put yourself out in the public eye, you must be prepared to take some hard looks at you, your work, your life, and your ideas. I think he took the criticism like a man. He's got class. That a few of you are offended for him, means you have hearts. Melts my icy heart a bit. But only a little. There's another story due for Friday's blog post.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. RE: "why would Ryan hire Jody?"

Do you think all editors are published themselves? Do you think all agents are published? Or maybe they just know the how of things, and the right way to present, and the right people. A new writer needs lots of help and advice. I don't think Stephen King is giving any out this year.

My accountant was audited by the IRS. Should I not use him anymore?

The lady that cleans my house has a really messy house herself. Doesn't mean she doesn't know what to do.

You hire people to help you hone your craft and better your writing. He admitted that he knows nothing... let me repeat that... NOTHING about police work. If he wanted to write more accurate detective dance numbers, or cop stories, why wouldn't he hire me?

Mary Ann said...

@Jody, See my above comment where I mention that anyone can use help and a critique group or an editor? I knew that you'd mention the fact that people who edit don't always write, etc. and that you could help someone with police procedure, etc. I agree with that. However, you must admit you became a bit of a bully when you talked about things not related to his story. Attack the story, not the person. And I still think he has one up on many writers still trying to get into WW. Good for him. That's all. I'm not angry, just didn't like the way the conversations turned after awhile.

Mary Ann said...

And you are doing a bit of back-pedaling here, too, or throwing some of the others here under the bus, mentioning how someone called him a "would be writer", but wasn't it you who said:

"Well, I hope he's got this writing career thing out of his system and he moves on to other things."

I know it was just kidding around. You ARE funny, a lot of the time. But I truly felt a sort of bad karma started up on here. We're all trying to improve our writing, using the tools we see necessary, the time we commit to it, the help we get from writing partners, etc. Let's just remember that a person is attached to the stories. You don't have to like all of them and can rip them apart how you see fit, but with your own blog you should realize it's the "story" we're after.

Chris said...

The purpose of critiques is to highlight areas of a story (yes, even an already published one) that might benefit from a bit more work. Whether it's ease of reading, clarity, characterisation, etc., we can still learn from mistakes and hopefully make the next one even better. When Jody highlights errors in police procedure, or a legal point, it's because she knows her stuff, can't argue with that. That said, I think the criticism often ignores the fact that WW's m-m's aren't meant to mirror real-life crimes. They're light, five minute distractions from the reader's busy day. I've said so often, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way, but I do see why she does it. It's the main purpose of this blog, after all, and her area of expertise.

Personally, I'm not a fan of sarcasm, which I think can be mean and hurtful, even when it's not meant to be. That's one of the problems of the written, rather than the spoken, word. You can't see the expression that softens the comment and it's a matter of interpretation as to how it's taken.

What I'm very much NOT a fan of is personal attack. We don't know the authors of these stories, and I'll often Google a name out of interest to see what comes up. More often than not there's very little background but on this occasion the writer's website was full of interesting detail, some of which I shared with the group. So, yes, I was uncomfortable seeing such positive achievements given that rather negative slant. It jarred. People do all sorts of different things, it's what makes life interesting. Write, dance, play the piano, paint, fly planes - do whatever the hell you want to. There are no limits.

Kate's blog is very different to yours, Jody, but not 'gushing'. She gets her point across in a gentler way, it's true, but she is just as honest about what works for her and what doesn't. I've found her dissections of the progress of a story, its rises and falls and the devices used to move it along, very insightful and an excellent way of analysing why it worked. Or didn't.

You both provide a valuable service and long may you do so.

Julia said...

Dear Anonymous,
You asked why I would hire Jody to help me work on a mystery I wanted to submit and you pointed out that she has not yet sold a mystery to WW. I know she hasn't. But I don't think the reason she hasn't made a sale yet is because of her expertise in police procedure, and, since I lack that myself, that is precisely what I'd be wanting to get from her. I don't think I'd take "kindly" to other sorts of advice, but, as I told Mary Ann, I have to admit that, the harsher the words I got from my editors in the past, the better my writing became. And if I were hoping to earn my bread and butter by writing fiction, I'd want all the advice I could get, even if it was a tad sarcastic (as Jody, I admit) can be.

Julia said...

Chris-Our kind British friend. Once again, you have weighed in with admirable good will and restraint. Thank you for that.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. I think we've beat this dead horse enough. I see your point. I understand why you think that way. I don't see it as bullying. It's my sense of humor. I wrote it with smiley faces. I agree that we disagree.

I think we've covered it. I know I'm done.

You say you're not all fired up but once again you're coming right at me with a direct hit. "And you are doing a bit of back-pedaling here, too, or throwing some of the others here under the bus, mentioning how someone called him a "would be writer". That "someone" was the critic from the theater who was doing the review for his detective tap dance routine. She called him some other things too that weren't all that sweet. I just focused on her comment on the writing aspect as that's what this discussion was supposed to be about until it got lost in the woods.

How about we put this to bed? It's getting old now.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. You're so diplomatic and kind I think you should run for office. I'm serious. You're the voice of calm in a plane dropping alarmingly fast.

You and I have a different picture of what gushing is. Kate is sweet and kind and nice and hates to write bad things about the stories because she knows it's somebody's baby and she doesn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I'd like to put her up for sainthood. I took her classes. She got me started writing for WW. I sold because of her. But reading cutesy, kind, adorable comments makes me want to nod off. I'll be no one has ever dozed off reading my blog. It's more like they want to stab somebody after. :) (Note smiley face.)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Julia.

"--tad sarcastic (as Jody, I admit) can be."

A tad? hmmmmph. I'll have to work on that.


Julia said...

Mary Ann - Your sensitivity to the feelings of others is a special gift you bring to this blog. I bet you bring it to all the other activities in your life too. As I said above, I believe that Ryan's energy and ambition will take him far; it's gonna be fun to watch him develop his career. (I'm one of those "motherly" types, can't help it.) It's hard to communicate without being face-to-face and hearing each other's voices. I didn't think Jody was being a bully, but you obviously did. And you said you weren't angry, but I thought you were. We need SKYPE!

Julia said...

Jody - you're "a tad" sarcastic "at times" the same way Paris Hilton is a "tad" self-promoting.

Ladies, are we done here? Can we get on with other things now? I've got a science fair to go to and a grandson's home-made water purifier to pretend I can understand . . .

Mary Ann said...

I really didn't mean to come across as angry. :) See, i'm smiling. So sorry about that. I don't even know Ryan. But I think we all need to show some goodwill toward other writers trying to make it. Criticize their work, give them advice, tell them where they might have gone wrong with the police work part, but jeez, let's leave his size and his job or whatever dreams he might have about writing alone. Like I said, Karma. I mean this for us all. It was a good "debate." Now, Peace, Jody. :)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Julia. I'm done. Carry on. :)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. I'm smiling too. Good discussion.

Anonymous said...

I only read the story here, so I didn't know about her poor eyesight. My only clue was that she described the man's face despite only seeing the back of him.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Anony

RE: her eyesight.

This was in the capsulated version above... maybe you missed it:

"Isabelle squinted and walked closer, asking, “Which one is it?”