Breaking my Silence and my Happy Mask – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author

All the Things I’m NOT Supposed to Say – so be it, I’m biting the fucking hand that feeds. – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author of Unhinged

 

I won’t and can’t apologize for the minor editing errors that slipped through the literary cracks; not when I look at the whole of the process that was writing, editing, and taking on the responsibility for “professionally editing” my own manuscript, with the help of my longtime friend, Marisela Mitchley. (Despite what was promised to me by my publishers in my contract.)

Yes, I got a damning review over the weekend of my book, Unhinged.

(Psst: please, no need tell me over and over again that “you are going to get these bad reviews, Kelly,” because I KNOW THAT. I have a few things I need to address.)

The “errors” that were called out in said review aren’t actually even grammatical errors – to so confidently call out a writer for “assaulting the English language” and for “possessing bad grammatical skills” warrants a manuscript that is consistently poorly written, by a writer who uses the wrong “your” or “there” and doesn’t understand how commas or semicolons work. Not a few sentences ending in prepositions. Or for the way I used the word “idler.” To say that M.B.Reviewer has grossly exaggerated her assessment of my literary abilities is putting it lightly.

Sitting in my author’s seat is very frustrating; I’m not allowed to defend myself. It comes across as whiny, defensive, and flags me, by proxy, as weak and thin-skinned, along with possessing an inability to take constructive criticism, not to mention it pegging me as difficult to work with, when that could not be further from the truth.

What I consider to be an assault on the English language are words like, “obvs,” “OMG,” and “guyliner” not only existing in pop culture, but being added to the Oxford Dictionary. THAT is an assault.

You may read the review here: Review on Amazon of Unhinged

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ending a sentence with a preposition is “not a grammatical error.” And, according to http://www.dictionary.com/browse/idle, the way I used the word “idler” in the prologue is 100% correct. The statements that this review made about my abilities as a writer are defamatory, unnecessary, and flat out bogus.

A successful constructive critical review might look something like this: Coody’s book provided great literary insight into a different type of protagonist, giving the reader layers to peel back as they discover different aspects of Agnes’s personality and background. While, at times, Agnes is a character I can identify with and root for, there are other times that I feel Agnes is written to be too aggressive, detracting from the main plot and story-line, making the reader side with those around her who are out to get her. But, then, at the same time, is Coody attempting to make an overarching statement about how a protagonist doesn’t always need to be someone we identify with? While a few minor typographical errors made their way into print, they weren’t enough to distract me from the story and the characters. Unhinged is a solid, thrilling, unique book. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the way the book ended, and feel that it could do with a bit of revision, it’s nothing that a second and/or third edition wouldn’t be able to address and/or fix. Overall, Unhinged is one hell of a psychological thriller that will stay with you long after you read it.

Here’s the other part:

I’d love to share a story with you.

No, not a fictitious one; not an anecdotal, humorous holiday tale, either. But I’d like to share with you the ridiculously unprofessional process I endured and underwent with the publishing of my first book, Unhinged.

I was saddled with an editor whom shall remain nameless and gender-less in order to protect their identity. This person broke my book; they made unnecessary changes according to their style and/or taste, added errors and sentences that made no sense with the story, and repeatedly asked me to dumb my book down for the readers.

To be frank, I tried my hardest with the shit I was shoveled and I’m not the least bit sorry that more than a few shitty bits of grammar edged past the editing process and made their way into the final manuscript.

This has been an optimal outcome for me: through dedication and hard work, my friend and I made my book a cohesive, solid manuscript in a short amount of time, after playing clean up with what nameless editor had done to my manuscript. (One example: they changed Rolling Stones to Rolling Stone’s.)

Given this unforgivable lack of knowledge, competency, and professionalism, this editor was “let go” from “their” position at said contracted editing company.

NOW, mind you, I, like my good friend Marisela Mitchley, am not given to brevity. So stay with me.

After “Rookie Editor” soiled my manuscript, I looked over the PDF that was about to be sent to print, “Ready-to-go!” The further I read, the worse it got. Rookie Editor fucking annihilated my book, ADDING IN grammatical errors, changing my correct grammar to incorrect.

Guess what I was given as an alternative to “Rookie Editor?”

NOTHING. A half-hearted, ‘I’ll try,’ from the CEO of the contracted editing company, whose email to me was RIDDLED with typos, which I politely turned down. I was also given the same offer by the men who own the publishing company which published my book. They said the same thing, ‘This isn’t really my area, but I can give it a try.’ 

WHAT THE FUCK? 

At this point in the process, I’d become so jaded and disillusioned with not only the publishing process, but with everyone’s lack of concern and competency who were the supposed “experts” and “professionals” surrounding me, when it came to my book.

So, guess what I did? Guess what I had to do?

Not trusting the two people who freely admitted that they would probably fuck up my book even more, I enlisted the help of an old college friend. We were initially given two weeks, which was extended to about six. the fact that we were able to fix all of the many, many added typos, grammatical problems, and more than a few apostrophe problems, along with editing it the way it should have been done the first time around is nothing short of a miracle.

As for the remark in this review regarding the book’s premise being “not so unique?” This book is based on my life. Yes, I’ve mixed fiction in with it, but the premise is my life. Me. I don’t know how much more unique I could have gotten than that.

I’ll tell you something, though: despite the few “errors” that you feel discredit me as a writer, I am a damn good writer, I am proud of the book, and I have excellent grammar.

(“errors” = they aren’t, by definition, grammatical errors)

I’m not an idiot, guys. Some of you have even told me that you hated thrillers and that’s why you weren’t a big fan of my book–then, two weeks later, I saw that you posted something about how much you love thrillers.

This week has been a hard one for me. Forgive me, but my family has lost two important people; two close, dear, family friends, and it has thrown a crack into our foundation. So, in between the daily sexual harassment I deal with, along with the hypercritical stone-throwing pertaining to my literary merit, I am grieving, and am so, so deeply sad for my friends and their families during this time, along with feeling violated and stepped on for a long time now.

Don’t worry though: I love proving people wrong. I’m actively working on The Undoing.

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

(Just to show you another instance of utter incompetency on my publishers’ part, when they first listed Unhinged on Amazon for sale, they added a hyphen to my name. This is a pseudonym, for God’s sake. I don’t have a hyphenated name, nor have I ever. My legal name is Kelly Marie Coody, because I changed my name after I was married 9 years ago.)

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What Makes Someone a “Real Writer” Any More Than, Well, You? – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Editor in Chief

“Writers, by trade, tend to be more self-deprecating about their work than any other art form that exists.” 

Make no mistake, it is just as much of an art form as is painting or music. The inundation of ghost writers and self-help books topping the charts, so to speak, becoming NY Times Bestsellers, is what is killing our art form. We, the ones in the literary trenches, at SLM are here to revive it. And to spread the word that just because a person holds the title of Editor or Agent, does not give them the power to discredit your work. You don’t need a million degrees in literature or an intense session with a literary Yoda to truly “become one” with the art of writing.

I’d be lying if I said that I had the time, patience and stamina to read every single piece that crosses my path, and appreciate it for what it is, or, to even be able to see it from the writer’s perspective. Because I can’t. Hence the problem with perspective.

Shit happens. We aren’t perfect. We go through trying times and miscommunicate – but just because Melissa and I are usually quick to respond and to schedule your work, I don’t like that this is being taken advantage of by some of you. It makes me feel unappreciated and frustrated. I’m sure Melissa can agree.

From now on, the pace of things will be MUCH, MUCH SLOWER here at SLM – as I am still a full-time stay at home mom, to children who are growing up and who need parenting, who have extracurriculars, I have a husband and a marriage to sustain, and my book has just gone live in the past few weeks, giving me a lot of issues and exciting things to deal with.

Melissa is teaching FIVE (again, FIVE! Cinq! 5!!!) college classes this semester AND working a second job. She is busting her ASS trying to keep up with everything and give me a break from submissions so that I don’t go insane. I’ll be jumping back in this week, but it will be slowly.

We want to continue to love what we do here – not begrudge it or view it as a burden. It’s what we are working hard RIGHT NOW to avoid – in the future. If  we don’t take control over our own literary journal, it can swallow us up and force us to close up shop.

For now, onward and upward!

Those of you who may not know, my first book has been published and is live and available for purchase through a number of retailers. *This is not a shameless plug – I have published through a very, very small, independent press and am genuinely excited to hear your feedback on my book.*

Buy A Copy Directly From Snow Leopard Publishing!

My Author Page on Facebook

Melissa and I sort of run on fumes most days, as we are hopeless multitaskers, spinning multiple plates in the air at all times.

Happy October! I sadly looked on as all my peers shared photos of their children at various pumpkin patches across the country – and wondered when the hell it became a tradition or a mandated thing that upon crossing over into the month of October, Pumpkin Patch children photos MUST BE TAKEN! AND SHARED!!

Anyway, this month we see two themes: Dr. Jeff Toney PhD’s EPIPHANY and Paul Beckman’s It began in an elevator…

Melissa and I, a few months ago, both wrote to these themes as a workshop. I’m starting to think we should share, what do you think?

**LOOK OUT FOR OUR OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT VERY SOON FOR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES FOR SICK LIT MAGAZINE FOR 2017!!!***

Cheers, guys,

peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody