You don't know how big of a friggin sigh of relief I breathed when I read your thoughts. I have been on pins and needles about some of the characterizations and things, especially when we get into the chapters right after the opening and cruising to the middle of the story. You're doing me a MASSIVE service by your comments, and I truly believe this book is becoming a much better work than it could have been...than it was....with only my efforts.
~ Jonathan Daniel 6/07
Your critique was thorough and full of insight and good advice. I will take much of it to heart in my revisions. I am truly amazed at how much thought you put into your assessment, and that you are giving the same treatment to hundreds of other stories gratis! Very helpful to see how the work comes across to an editor.
~Nicholas Ozment 3/07
Thank you sooooo much for all of your valuable input! I really REALLY need this to help with my craft. I can't tell you how many books I've read just trying to learn about structure and advice as to how to "grab" the reader, etc. While its good, nothing beats actually writing and getting good, valuable feedback. I will definetly relook at my story and fix it up according to your direction. Again, your critique was greatly appreciated and I didn't mind the wait. It was worth it! ;0)
~ Brenda Gornick 3/07
Thank you so much for your review of my short story. I'm happy to learn that it worked for you. It's difficult (at least for me), to know if a story is reaching readers in the way I wrote it to work. Crit group reviews have tended to focus on the beginning, with many critters saying the story started too slowly. Thanks most of all for your encouraging words about being patient in finding an editor who likes the story. This is my first short story to be making the rounds. Having confidence my writing and story are not terribly lacking will make it easier for me to keep my hopes up in the face of inevitable "not for us" responses. I hope everything is back to normal for you and the Zen Pen is taking off again. There's quite a demand for good editorial services. Again, thanks and best wishes!
~ Linda Steele 10/06
..thank you for such a well thought out reading and critique. This has to be one of the best learning experiences about writing I've had.
~ William Brown 8/06
Thank you so much for your critique on [my novel]. I realize that you put quite a lot of effort into it. This is my first attempt to write a sequel and I didn't know how much prequel information was needed and how to approach it. You have helped me tremendously in this and in other areas as well. I have never seen such depth and quality like this in a critique before. You have given me a lot to think about. Again, thanks for all the hard work that you put into it.
~ Leon Arceneaux 6/06
I have been skimming over your comments and I totally agree. I will read this with a fine tooth comb and make all the necessary changes. I really want this and I will do what it takes to make it happen. Do not worry; I am not at all offended by anything you have said. It can only help me get better and I will have a better shot at getting this book published and read by any. I can't thank you enough for all your input and advice. I knew there was a reason why my book project was stalling. I also knew when I got your critique back I would be able to figure out what the problem was and I was right. You are an amazing editor and I truly value and respect your opinions.
~ Charisse Huff 6/06
Doubt you remember me, but you critted a story for me a few months back entitled Thief of Children. Anyway, I followed a bunch of your suggestions and made my first pro sale of the story to the pro e-zine ___! It’s only $___ but it's still a sale and I just wanted to say a quick thanks. Your services played an important part in helping me get the story published.
~ Scott Clements 4/06
I did want to share with you that this last email of yours was extremely informative for me, and I had one of those "light-bulb-moments" after when I was reading a short story in the latest "Realms" issue. It was a perfect example of what you were trying to pound into my thick skull. I'm one of those hard learners who can't learn from just being told, I have to see it -- and your examples helped perfectly in that regard, and then reading a story constructed that way was the icing on an already delicious cake! :-)
~ Pam. L Wallace 3/06
You were the first critiquer who read the story and actually "got" it. I knew there were flaws with the story, but I hadn't been able to find anyone who could understand what I was looking for well enough to see where it was going wrong.
~ Keesa Renée DuPré 2/06
I've been away for a while, but just a quick buzz to say thanks so much for your time and your review. I have a lot of cleaning up I want to do, and then I probably will get back in line for the first sixty pages again, but fixed, if that's okay. … I just finished a workshop this semester that only had one other student in it (unfortunately), and both he and the teacher were completely baffled by this piece and totally stuck on where and when it was. Neither of them are fantasy or sci-fi or speculative fiction fans but even knowing that, it really hit me hard to think that the piece could be that confusing. The teacher actually suggested I simply abandon it; she didn't even think it could be "fixed." So your timing was perfect--it was the boost I needed to get back to it and look at it fresh and believe in it again. … Thanks so much!
~ Rachel Haimowitz 1/06
Wow. Thank you so much for the intensive attention to detail you took when reviewing my work. You do this regularly, free of charge? That's absolutely amazing. I've only had a chance to skim your comments, but it's clear that they're incredibly thorough and that you put a lot of thought into them. I am in a creative writing MFA program and almost never get editorial input like this. Thank you thank you thank you!!
~ David Michael Conner 12/05
Wow. That was a great critique. Thank you so much! You do indeed rock like a fraggle. :) … I think your experience as a slush reader makes you an ideal person for critiques, especially to critique us aspiring writers. Your critique is what we'd love to hear from a slush reader or editor, in an ideal world where time is limitless. With your critiques, we finally get the explanation of why a slush reader would have stopped reading, but also the impression of reading the full story anyway. Sure, another reader might have stopped at a different spot and perhaps for different reasons, but it's such an insightful perspective. It's a perspective that's hard to get from most beta-readers, who are accustomed to slogging through your story anyway and don't have that instinct for when they would have stopped. … I will definitely use The Zen Pen again. Now I just need to decide what story to send. :)
~Mark Siegal 12/05
Carina: You rock like a fraggle.
~Helena Bell 12/05
The lengthy analysis was more than I was expecting, and I’m surprised and pleased with the amount of work you put into it! ... Thanks for the great feedback on this story! Upon first reading the email I grew extremely excited; new possibilities for a seemingly dead tale sprang to mind! I have since read over your email several times, and believe that it will prove extremely useful for all of my fiction. ... Anyway, thanks so much for your help. I’ve been so excited about this story since I received your second email! ;) Also, your final line “And of course I want to know when you sell the story” does wonders for the soul. Thanks so much for the encouragement and positive outlook.
~William Christensen 8/05
I will definitely take your words to heart and begin editing this story soon. Thank you so much for all the nice words, it's so rare to get encouragement in this line of work.
~ Steven Joshlin 7/05
I want to thank you so much. That is the most detailed, constructive, helpful critique I've ever received. It is both sobering and encouraging! ... I am grateful for such a thorough, honest response from you. You spent a lot of time on behalf of a complete stranger's story, and I appreciate it enormously. Already I know your critique will help this story, as well as my writing in general. ... Your critique couldn't be more helpful. I knew my story had difficulties, but I couldn't identify them... Your comments have inspired me. I think I can save these characters. I had a flurry of inspiration after reading and re-reading your critique. That's a good feeling.
~ Tanya Sorenson 7/05
Your critique really, really helped me see things that I simply wasn't able to see before. ... Your bit about my problem with exposition was utterly brilliant. ... I'm thrilled with your critique, and I will crow about it to anyone willing to listen.
~ Jacqueline H. Kessler 7/05