Two Dimensional Email and NAME HELP!

on December 14, 2006

This business is tough. Every writer knows it, because they’ve gone through the trenches, had their favorite manuscript rejected by numerous agents and publishers, and frankly, other writers are the only ones I feel truly understand me.

One thing I’ve learned is that every writer is unique. Not only our voice, but our process. Some write fast, some write slow. Some write sparkling dialogue, others intensely atmospheric setting, and yet others achieve a depth of character that make you really believe you know that person.

But like a parent, a spouse, sibling or best friend, other writers know instinctively what hurts. Because email is two-dimensional–you have no quick exchange of words, no facial expressions, and very little tone–the words and phrases used in an email can hurt–usually unintentionally, sometimes on purpose.

I painstakingly craft my emails–fast–to make sure that whatever I say will not hurt another writer’s feelings. I may disagree with them on how many POVs you can have in a scene, or whether a book was good or bad, or why you should query agent’s first, but I try very hard not to get personal or especially to make subtle jabs at other writers. Because I know how to hurt them, because their fears and insecurities mirror my own.

Words hurt. We know that because it’s our business to use words as effectively as we can.

I have a pretty thick skin. I developed it from thirteen years working in the legislature where I dealt with egos–elected officials and staff–and learned to navigate some tricky waters. I had over 100 rejections on my first four manuscripts, some of them quite nasty. I’ve been critiqued, criticized, and cut-down. Some of it hurt but it wasn’t long-lasting. I’m an optimist.

Emails and blog posts and all that other stuff out in cyberspace can’t be taken back. We tend to become complacent and just spout off. I know. I’ve done it before and regretted it. Everyone makes mistakes and puts their foot in their mouth. We’re human. And we learn from our mistakes.

Anyway, I just thought I’d vent about cyberspace. I love the Internet and email (too much!) but like anything good, we have to be careful out there 🙂


BTW, I finished FEAR NO EVIL (yeah!) and am working on revisions now. Minor (double yeah!). After Christmas I get to work on my paranormal novella, which I’m really excited about. I wrote the first chapter awhile back and am eager to return to my characters. The only problem? I’m stuck on my heroine’s name. Really stuck. I’ve changed her name a gazillion times. First she was Sydney. Then Anna. Now Micki. I think there were a couple names in between. Nothing fits her. Her last name is McPherson, which I like and want to keep. So I’m asking for help.

Here’s her basic character:

She’s the assistant Sheriff in a rural California coastal county who is still uncomfortable in the role. It was easier being a deputy than being in charge, but she’s good at it because she’s methodical and loyal. She is a “what you see” kind of person–black and white. She’s confronted with a case unlike anything she’s seen–the massacre of 12 retired priests at a mission in California. But she thinks she has it figured out, based on the evidence.

In comes the hero, a demonologist who had been travelling all night and day to reach the mission to save his best friend–but it’s too late. Of course, our heroine doesn’t believe anything he has to say–demons are responsible? Absolutely not. A human being–or two or three–slaughtered these men, not some mythical creature.

Physically, she has white-blonde hair, green eyes, and an aristocratic profile. She wears little make-up, her hair back, and is taller than most women–something she had to learn to accept. I’m thinking she’s at least five feet ten. The hero is six two. Ish. I think.

So have at it–give me a name that fits Assistant Sheriff McPherson and you get a prize. How about an ARC of SPEAK NO EVIL? I have one left I can give away . . . but to be fair, everyone who suggests a name will be entered into the drawing, except for the gals here at MSW. Though they can play, too. I’ll post the winner this weekend.