Friday, March 23, 2007

Looking Into a Mirror...

Happy Friday, BGs.

Here's another reader letter I received recently. (Run, as always, with permission.) This one shows a different side of reader letters. How some can be harsh ... but what's really behind that apparent harshness? Has the book touched something inside the reader that he/she doesn't want to look at? As Christian writers, we need to know how to respond--and if we should at all. God prompted me to respond to this one, and I'm glad I did. Following are the original e-mail to me, my answer, and the reader's response. (I've used lines to replace plot points the reader mentions, and to replace the reader's name.)

Subject Line: Eyes of Elisha

Dear Brandilyn,

I really loved your book from the start, intriguing great suspense. But when it came to the ending it was terrible. I hate that _________________. It made my feel really angry that ______________. It made me really dislike the whole entire book. Right now I hate your ending and Chelsea for not waiting on God. Man, I'm sorry for ragging on you but I'm so disappointed in the ending that it makes me feel like the time I read your book was a total waste of time. I just really pray that your other books have a Great ending to compensate this horrible one.

Sorry, but that is how I feel.

p.s. I'm sure other people love it, but not me.

_____, thanks so much for writing. I LOVE your name. ____ ____. It just sort of rolls off the tongue.

Ah, endings. Some love 'em, some hate 'em. As for __________, I worked closely with a prosecutor on this book as far as researching what would happen. And this is what the prosecutor said would be likely. In the eye of the law, ___________. So that part was really out of my hands if I wanted to stick to believability.

"Hate Chelsea for not waiting on God." Well, that's a strong word. Have you ever jumped ahead of God? I sure have. I think most Christians have. For Chelsea, her "jump" didn't look so big a thing at the time, because it all looked so right. Yet that little assumption on her part had huge consequences--for her and others.

In a way, I think it's good that you "hate" the ending. Because this ending is real life--and it shows the consequences of our not waiting on God. So many readers of this book have written to tell me just that--how reading this story showed them of some of their own "jump" decisions. It's made them more careful for next time.

Is Eyes of Elisha the first book of mine you've read? (Good choice--since it's my first suspense, and they do build.) I think you'll find in all my books the depiction of reality--and sometimes that's pretty raw and not all sweetness-and-light. The wonderful, awesome news is--God is there with us in the midst of that raw reality, if we want Him to be. And there is always something to learn from it.

I'm trying to think if there's anything in the ending to Dread Champion that you wouldn't like. I don't think so. You ought to give that one a try. Then, if you want, you can move to my Hidden Faces series, which features a forensic artist, Annie Kingston. But in the fourth book of that series, Web of Lies, Chelsea Adams joins Annie as a duo, so the two series mix together.

Again, thanks so much for writing. It's always good to hear from readers. And I hear passion behind your voice, which is a very good thing. If this book made you feel passionate enough to write and "rag" on me, as you put it, then at least it stirred up emotion. And who knows, maybe at some point in your life when you're about to jump ahead of God, you'll remember Chelsea, and think, "Oops. Wait a minute..."

Many blessings to you, ______.


Hello again,

I reread my message to you and I'm sorry. I was really harsh. It was pretty late and I was PMS-ing. Thank you for the time that you wrote to me even though I was pretty mean. I now have an understanding in why you wrote what you did, and why. Thanks for putting up with my harsh criticism. You're right about everything I complained about.

P.S. I again apologize for my letter. I sometimes say before I think, which is what Chelsea did. So thank you, I really appreciate it.

I was looking into a mirror without even realizing it.


Kristy Dykes said...

Pretty neat--her harsh letter, your letter of explanation AND KINDNESS, and then her letter of APOLOGY. Wow. Very touching. B., you lived out the scripture: "A soft word turns away wrath." Good for you!

Susanne said...

That is pretty powerful Brandilyn. A very real lesson in answering with kindness and seeing beyond someone's harshness. Thanks for sharing that letter and your response and again her response.

D. Gudger said...

good example on how to respond to harsh letters. You took it as a teaching moment. Cool.

Deborah said...

i got my copy of coral moon for the upcoming CFBA tour today. ahhhhh can't wait to read it!

Robin Caroll said...

You know, B, EYES is my favorite book of yours. After reading this letter, I went back to figure out WHY it's my favorite. And I's because it's REAL. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Man, I hope I don't get any letters like that. I'll cry. No, I'll bawl!

Janet Rubin said...

There are so many growing kind of lessons for us all along the writing journey. I'm still in the perservere/don't give up/be patient until you get published/learn to grow by listening to criticism phase. Brandilyn, you're living the dream-putting out book after book- but God is still giving you opportunities to grow. What a lovely, humble, gentle and Christ-like response. And God bless the letter-writer for her apology. living proof that the Bible's advice about giving a soft answer really works!

Rich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich said...

The person who wrote that response must really not like today's TV shows. Talk about unrealistic endings!

I do get disappointed by endings, especially if the writer wimps out--like they got tired and just wanted to wrap it up.

I look forward to Coral Moon. Keep exercising that ankle for Mount Hermon! :-)

Air Force Family said...

What a great lesson, Brandilyn. A soft answer turneth away wrath. I definitely needed this one. I tend to jump the gun and I need to learn to be kind and gentle. More Christ-like.


SolShine7 said...

LOL. That's just great.

I didn't think her letter was "harsh" though. I'm sure there are more strong and cutting sentiments one can say.