Home > Writing > Sick in the Head, one Writer’s Fan Mail

Sick in the Head, one Writer’s Fan Mail

I have to admit, I’m a little bit envious of my friend J.E. Taylor. She writes some gripping and visceral stories. Mostly these days she’s been doing crime stories with a touch (or more) of paranormal mixed in. They can be downright creepy at times and on more than one occasion I’ve pulled my head out of one of her books and said, “Woah!” That’s as much of a spoiler as I give you, if you want to know more, you’ll have to check them out herself. My wife loves her books too, so it’s not just me.

So why am I jealous? It’s because she shared some fan mail with me that she received that upset her a little. At first glance, I could see why, but then I dug deeper and realized it was a compliment to her skill at writing and drawing the reader in. The fan, who will remain nameless, bad mouthed her and told her she was disgusted and appalled at the story she’d just finished. The reader was so upset she intended to never read anything by her again and to share with all of her reading friends her dismay so she could convince them to not read anything by her as well. It’s easy to see how upsetting that could be.

Now let’s take it apart and look at it again. This woman could have stopped reading the book at any time. No, she stuck with it to the end in spite of how much it disturbed her. My friends, readers and writers alike, is there a greater compliment out there than to know that you’ve bound somebody with the story you’re telling so completely that they must finish it, no matter the cost?

On a cheap and defensive level, the fan mail was written completely bereft of punctuation. It also had little regard to grammar, and more than a few typos. I find it hard to take a criticism seriously from someone who expects me to be attacked by their words, yet does not have the ability to use the language as a weapon. I suspect her threat of notifying “her reading friends” might have been paraphrased from, “my friends that know how to read’. But I’ll be fair and admit I’m being snarky in saying that.

I’m writing this because it upset me and amused me, at the same time. Yes, some of her stories have a well defined sense of the macabre at times. She’s been known to drop the F-bomb in them and even talk about such things as boobies and other not-mentioned-enough body parts. They are books for adults, but that does not make them adult books. Yeah, you know what I mean. If you find you don’t like something, then stop reading it. If you can’t bring yourself to stop, then acknowledge that it may have gone somewhere horribly wrong but you were swept up by it anyhow. Kind of like how I was when I sneaked a TV into a spare room when I was wayyyyy to young (4, 5, or 6 – I think) and watched the Amityville Horror one night through the gaps in my fingers. I’d never let my kids do it knowingly (and neither did my parents), but I have to admit that it was one hell of a story!

So go check J.E. Taylor out. Is it really that bad – or good? Or bad and good? You can even start with Vengeance, her free novel on Amazon. What have you got to lose, other than some sleep and maybe a little bit of your innocence.


To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

  1. romancediva
    June 3, 2012 at 21:04

    This blog entry haunted me, so I finally decided to comment.

    When I was a senior in h.s., I published my first short piece. Not long after, I received a ‘D-‘ on a story I turned in for creative writing class, and was crushed. I tried to tell myself the teacher was holding me to higher standards now, but it hurt. The next day, this teacher changed my grade to an ‘A+’. She said the ending upset her so badly, she reacted by giving me a bad grade (the worst I ever received) but she’d realized anything that invoked such a strong emotional reaction is a good piece of writing.

    Later, I pursued a career as a musician. After resettling in a new city, I received a scathing review in the newspaper. It was so horrible, I questioned my musical talent. Then someone told me that the reviewer’s live-in girlfriend was the only other female vocalist in the area, who wasn’t as well-trained or talented as I am. (She tended to sing flat!) He was worried that I would make her look bad by comparison; she retired shortly after I started working in the area.

    As a result, I decided never to read another review of my work. The good reviews tend to inflate our ego, while the bad reviews hurt us and cause us to question our ability. If your friend was attacked by this reader, she must have struck a cord. It’s very possible a certain amount of jealousy was involved in this person’s response. My recommendation to anyone in a creative field is to ignore the opinions of others, and just concentrate on doing the best work you can. After all, we’re really doing this because we love it, right?

    BTW, having looked up your friend’s work on Amazon, I believe I’m going to have to give her work a try…

    • June 3, 2012 at 21:11

      Thank you very much for sharing your story! Your experience seconds my own thoughts very much. I’m also very happy to hear you’ve got a good voice, by the way. πŸ™‚

      When it comes to reviews, I admit I don’t often read them (for my own work). My experience with them is that the reviews are either written by people lacking in an important area, or the reviewer has an ulterior motive. Often, when there are few reviews, they tend to be written by friends / family / fake accounts of the author (that falls under ulterior motive). In the case of my friends book, it wasn’t a review so much as direct feedback sent to her via email. Much harder to ignore that one. Heck, I know when my readers send me email I’m thrilled – but I’ve also never had one question my ability to be a parent based on how my story was written.

      C’est la vie. I’m enjoying a well deserved vacation in Florida on Daytona beach right. It’s hard to feel anything but appreciative right now!

  2. June 4, 2012 at 21:44

    Jason, Glad to hear you’re warm and safe on the Florida beaches right now. πŸ™‚ Wish I was there too!

    Romancediva – thank you for sharing your wisdom!


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