Besides writing, I also offer critiquing and editing services.
I received an email from a new writer, asking if I’d be willing to critique and edit her novella.
To protect this author’s identity, I’ll refer to the author as Felicia Gallant. Anyone who used to tune into Another World will recognize that name–she was my favorite character. Wouldn’t we all love to write in silk PJ’s, a feather boa, and Mr. Rock Hard Abs holding a flower, and a lampshade? 🙂
Okay, back to aspiring author Felicia who contacted me.
In her request for editing services, Felicia attached her project.
An erotica novella.
I emailed Felicia back to let her know that I don’t write erotica nor have I read much of it, and asked if she still wanted to go ahead and hire me?
She wrote back, saying that wasn’t a problem as she still wanted me to give her suggestions on how to strengthen her story, and to point out any technical issues.
I accepted, because I could still critique any genre based on a story’s goal, motivation, conflict, characterization, plot, and mechanics.
In her communication with me, Felicia always addressed me as Mistress Robins, and her emails read like someone who spoke in broken English.
Felicia then emailed to let me know she wanted to send me payment via snail mail. In cash.
I highly recommended she not send cash through the mail, and directed her to Pay-Pal.
She said she didn’t trust sending funds through the Internet.
I then suggested she send a check.
She said she didn’t have a checking account, and could only pay me in cash.
Although I found this odd, I reiterated that sending cash through the mail wasn’t safe, but she insisted, so I gave her my P.O. Box number.
As I started to read her novella, I realized the content was beyond what I had expected.
This was a hard-core erotica tale, more suited for male readers than females, in my opinion.
I have a close friend (for the sake of my friend’s anonymity, I’ll call her Natasha) who reads a lot of erotica stories written by male authors for men.
I emailed Felicia and asked for her permission to allow me to forward her novella to a close friend of mine to get a second opinion.
I waited a week for a response from Felicia, but she never responded. I took her silence to mean it wasn’t okay for me to get a second opinion, so I didn’t share her work, and kept on with my editing and critiquing.
I finished the edit and sent it back to Felicia with my suggestions. I explained it was a challenge for me to fully grasp the plot, and the characters behavior in the story. I also highly recommended she get a second opinion on my suggestions, and sent her a few links that I thought could help her with publishing her novella, and encouraged her to keep writing, and wished her well with her publishing journey.
A week later, I received a package in the mail at home. It was a CD collection wrapped as a gift with a card attached that said, “Thank you for the wonderful critique and encouragement. Here’s a gift to express my gratitude.” Signed Natasha (my friend).
I was confused. Why was my friend thanking me?
I hadn’t critiqued anything for Natasha in a long time.
So I called Natasha to tell her I received her gift and to ask her why she was thanking me in the first place.
Natasha couldn’t stop laughing and then imitated a broken English accent: “Thank you, Mistress Robins.“
After a few seconds, it all clicked together.
The author, Felicia, was really my friend Natasha in disguise.
My friend explained it was the reason she purposely wrote in broken English, and why she couldn’t use Pay-Pal or send a check because then I’d know it was her.
She wanted me to critique this novella, without me knowing it came from her, and because the novella was a lot more hard-core than she knew I read, she shied away from giving me a heads up about the project.
I think I put a rib out-of-place that day, laughing so much with her on the phone. She did say it was an awesome critique even though she knew it was a challenge for me to understand some of the actions, dialog, and plot points.
Natasha said she cracked up when she read the email to Felicia about asking a “good friend for a second opinion,” because she knew if she would have said yes, I’d be calling her to discuss the project, and she knew she couldn’t keep a straight face or stop herself from laughing.
I still laugh when I think about that day.
I’ve had a lot of pranks pulled on me by friends and family, it’s not hard, as I tend to be gullible (sometimes), but I must say, this was epic.