Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Keep Those Letters and Cards Coming in, Folks...

By Cornelia Read

The inbox almost always holds some interesting reader response, these day. Below are some of my favorites of recent weeks (with some pix of other peoples' fan letters thrown in for fun)...

I would think that by the time a writer has a book published,
she would be able to tell her story in descriptive fashion
without using so many curse words. I have never started
reading a book with so many GD's, F's and "sh" words. Is
that all the language you know? Come on!

Unfortunately for you, I will NOT finish the book and I will NOT
be recommending any of your books to my friends. What could have
(might have) been a good story has been ruined by your poor command
of the English language.

"That's HEDley..."

I am in the process of reading your book, The Crazy School, and am amazed
at the similarity of its content and my experiences teaching English at
the Kolburne School just outside of
Great Barrington, Mass. and was
wondering if Kolburne School was the model for your novel. I know there are
a few other smaller schools in that area that are alternative schools, but the
core experiences in your book bring back memories of that sad community.
I had one student who swallowed a magic marker and died.

I picked up your book at the library having no idea that the setting
would be the Berkshires much less a school that so closely resembled
DeSisto, the word resembled being an understatement. Almost forgiving
in your description of the school's philosophy and milieu, you've
done an extraordinary job of recreating the flavor of the "treatment"
that went on there.

Thanks for brightening my week with a good story. :-)

by no means am i qualified to write a literary review. i just wanted
to write a quick note to acknowledge you. there was so much stuff that
i havent thought about (probably on purpose)in a long time, and it was
a real pleasure to see it in your pages. the "desisto talk", the mansion,
the grape arber...wow, if only your readers could take the time to go up
and visit, and see how true your words are.

I'd like to first tell you that I am currently enjoying the story line of A Field of Darkness.
The characters seem real and the details are amazing. I'd like to suggest to you though
that you not use the word go*damn so much. Almost every page has this word and I have
to stop reading and pray for forgiveness each and every time. It's frustrating when I'm
reading along and really enjoying it and then I have to stop. I think you'd be surprised the
many people who take offense to using the Lord's name in vain.

Anyway, I will also read your next book because I'm sure it will be just as good as your first.


What's the best or worst email you've ever gotten? Inquiring minds want to know...


  1. The email that comes to mind at the moment included the phrase "The Belle Dame Sancerre Merci".


    (And those letters are great)

  2. After Walking Money came out I got a note from Joesph Wambaugh, who as many of you know is one of my heroes.

    I don't remember what it said exactly but it didn't say "This sucked".

    That was the high point.


  3. After GOOD DAY IN HELL came out, I got an e-mail from a woman whose major complaint was my lousy Spanish. My favorite part was "Miguel de Cervantes would roll over in his grave to see what you've done with his beautiful language!" So from now on, I'm running any Spanish words and phrases past Jim Born.

  4. Wait a minute...are you saying we're supposed to be getting fan mail?

  5. I have gotten some very weird responses: not to a piece of writing per se, but to a piece of my artwork that was used by Doreen Virtue in her Mermaids and Dolphins Oracle Deck. One was from a very distressed gentleman in his car out in the desert somewhere - he'd lost his way, and the oracle wasn't telling him what he wanted to know, so he took the card (my art) literally and used the contact info in the book to CALL ME. My husband took the call and managed to calm him down and make soothing noises, and to regretfull tell him that Ms Virtue had seen the er, virute in the art to name it something to go with the painting. I did not have extra insightful information.

    Just yesterday I got a short exhuberent letter from someone in Wisconsin asking for 'more information please'. Urk.

    The title of the oracle card my painting appears on is: "ASK AN EXPERT". Now if it were cooking or painting, I could talk up a storm...I really have difficulty in telling strangers how to live their lives...

    Ya know, I'm going to make some notes for my artist protagonist. This seems a great idea for a subplot...

    Great post Miss C.! And if people are complaining about your use of profanity in print, they must have covered their delicate ears upon seeing the opening of Four Weddings and a Funeral. :-D I don't mind if people pray for really serious things, but stopping to pray for forgiveness every five seconds because of reflected profanity (being forced to read it)is a bit much. I mean, come on, the Big G. has a lot more earnest things to worry about like answering prayers for protecting loved ones in Iraq...those who have terminal or serious illnesses...or other big things wrong in their lives, even if it is just something quick like "please protect my child today." etc.

    Have a great day.


  6. When you're a kick grass, bad lass, mother fruiting, rock sucking,son of a beach, of course you're gonna get "fan mail." Seriously though, when you write as well as you nakedauthors do, you deserve some feedback [that means YOU Go-Lo]...Hopefully, if critical the criticism is constructive. I know it must feel good to get accolades from people you'll probably never meet.....
    another GREAT post Cornelia.


  7. My absolute favorite Bad Language story comes from Lori G. Armstrong (and Cornelia, if you don't know Lori, you guys should definitely meet up; I think you'd get on like a house afire.) Anyway, Lori wrote at First Offenders about a letter she'd gotten from a lady who, in order to prove that she didn't need all that rough language to tell a story, went trough the whole book with a black magic marker and blotted out all the Bad Words.

    Bitch be crazy, yo.

  8. AT LAST! A naked author, and at a typewriter.

    I can die happy.

    Tom, T.O.

  9. Tom, I put that in there SPECIFICALLY for you!!

  10. I got an email asking "How does your wife sleep with a man who is so obviously mentally disturbed."

    I wrote back asking which man she was referring to, so I could ask her.

  11. Yeah, I know, I'm only ONE of your "stalkerati" -probably-related WASP loony tunes.....
    Bush may torture people, but at least he doesn't CURSE goddamn mofo!

    love you lots.

  12. I just finished Field of Darkness, and have Crazy School waiting bedside along with Maisie Dobbs, both for as soon as I finish a book that was sent to me.

    If I were to attempt to be constructive, I certainly wouldn't do it in a blog comment, Cornelia, but I did enjoy the story. And as I have never attended or taught at a school in the Berkshires, I won't have to worry about any ghosts when I finally make it to your second work. Of course, eceryone has a right to their own opinions.

    Ummm...my favorite letter or e-mail?

    From the Offices of Van Boren, Sladen, Stiehl and Hammer: On behalf of our client, Tabitha VanStracken, we respectfully insist that you..."

    Oops. Wrong letter. Never mind...

    (I hope there aren't any real Tabitha VanStracken's out there anywhere)

    And yes, thanks for the nekkid writer, Cornelia. You have relieved a great many anxieties. :o)

  13. I think I have a cousin Tabitha, Jeff. But IIRC her surname VanCookieMonster.

  14. Ah! Thank you for putting her in there SPECIFICALLY for me, Cornelia. You really know how to treat a guy. TWO bottles of winr for you next time!

    Tom, T.O.

  15. WINE, that is.

    Tom, T.O.

  16. hey c. - do not *ever* edit your voice. I'll be crushed. keep it coming, baby