Thursday, September 07, 2006

From the Mailbox

I get a lot of nice letters from a lot of nice people. Most writers do. The people that don't like your books generally don't read them and won't take the time to look up your email or write you to let you know they don't like something you did.

However, on a recent Sunday and Monday, I got these two letters, which I'll share with you. Just to let you know that a writer's life isn't always filled with adoration.

Do you think it's appropriate to be writing Buffy novels aimed at children when you show such intolerance for others by associating with the left behind books? Reeally - an entire book series devoted purely to punishing non-believers and we're to believe childrens' fiction should be left in your hands? Give me a break.

Kind of stung, I have to admit. Especially with no address, no salutation. But I gave my best reply.

I think I'm more generous in my view of the world than some.

Instead of focusing on people who write fiction to support their family and dump on them, I coach little league baseball and basketball and try to make the small corners of the world I inhabit a better place.

Believe it or not, there are many who don't think the Buffy world should be shown to young adults. I'm not in that camp. I believe that young adults should read whatever catches their imagination. Whether it's Buffy or Left Behind. I've even got readers who read both and find no problem with that.

I save my outrage for child molesters.

Then this one (more polite but still vicious).

Good day sir,

I have just finished reading your novel, Paid in blood.

Was disappointed in it.
There were glaring errors in it, (you should research more diligently)
Poor characters I find it hard to believe that a commander would in charge of an entire aircraft carrier.
Ohio class missile subs carry ballistic missiles not tomahawks and I doubt they carry 154 of them
Plot line was not very good either I kept hoping that it would improve it did not.
Characters do not ask the readers to get on their side (no development)

Poor workmanship Sir, you got some of my money but you will not get anymore of it

Ouch! Questioning my research? I admit, I have made some mistakes over the years. (Ask me about the time I had a law enforcement team invade a room, confront 6 bad guys, kill 9 of them and take prisoners!). But I think I responded as politely under the circumstances as I could.

For your edification:

A commander is the XO (executive officer, SECOND in command).


SSBN Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Submarine, USA

The Ohio class submarines serve the United States Navy as the virtually undetectable undersea launch platforms of intercontinental missiles. The Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, based at Groton, Connecticut, has built 18 Ohio submarines, commissioned between 1981 and 1997. The submarines of the Pacific Fleet are based at Bangor, Washington, and those of the Atlantic Fleet at King's Bay, Georgia. The submarines spend 70 days at sea followed by 25 days in dock for overhaul.


Under the requirements of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START II, which was agreed in June 1992, the number of strategic missile submarines was limited to 14 from the year 2002. Rather than decommissioning these four submarines, the US Navy is converting them to SSGNs (conventionally armed nuclear-powered) submarines. In September 2002, Electric Boat received a contract for the conversion of USS Ohio (SSBN 726), Michigan (727), Florida (728) and Georgia (729). The submarines are being refitted with up to 154 Tomahawk TLAM (land attack) or Tactical Tomahawk (Block IV) missiles and will also be capable of conducting special operations missions with accommodation for Northrop Grumman Advanced SEAL delivery systems (ASDS), mission control centre and 102 special operations troops.

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems is modifying the Trident fire control system for the Tomahawk weapon control. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is adapting the missile launch tubes, developing a Multiple All Up Round Canister (MAC) which will provide storage and launch of up to seven Tomahawk missiles from each of the submarine's 22 missile tubes.

USS Ohio began conversion in November 2002 and this was completed in January 2006, when the ship rejoined the fleet following sea trials in December 2005. USS Florida began the SSGN conversion in July 2003 and rejoin the fleet in April 2006. The conversion of all four submarines is to be completed in 2008. SSBN's USS Pennsylvania and USS Kentucky have shifted homeport from Kings Bay to Bangor to balance the strategic force.

In January 2003, USS Florida took part in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) experiment “Giant Shadow” to test the capabilites of the new SSGNs. The experiment included validation launches of two Tomahawk missiles, the first ever launch of a UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) and insertion of a Navy SEALS force. The SSGN will have the capacity to accommodate 66 SEALS.

You can find this at

And I understand that not all books work for everyone. That’s why they make different shoe sizes as well.

Generally I make it a practice not to respond, but I was stressed and felt defensive. Writers write mostly to be understood, I think. And I wanted them to know my point of view. I never heard anything back, so maybe they blocked my responses. Don't know. I shared the stories with a couple friends and they suggested I post it here.

Hopefully this won't attract a flame war.


Bill said...

Great work. I enjoy everything you write. It kills me when I hear of someone ripping on a friend of mine they don't even know.It makes me want to ask him the titles of his books he's got published so I can critique with the same fierceness. If it's any consolation I had a guy from church ask me this evening if I'd read Paid in Blood yet. He told me he's read all of your left behind type books and Paid in Blood. He's a big fan.
Again, great job,

Mel Odom said...

That's good to know, Bill. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how many people attempting to fight intolerance become extremely intolerant themselves.

Velvet Lace said...

You go Mel!

I think any writer should be able to defend themselves and the validity of their work. Not eveyone will like what you write, I think it's important to develop a thick layer of skin and believe in your work, whether anyone else does or not! You have too many fans to let a few uninformed opinions get you down!


Ruthie said...

Dear Mel,

Absolutely you did the right thing in defending your work! I don't know how much more clear, concise and entertaining you can get!

You da' man!

Love your work and God bless you!!


Ron Simpson said...

Mel, here is some more info....
After the end of the cold war plans called for Ohio to be retired in 2002, followed by three of her sisters. However, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and Georgia instead were slated for modification, to remain in service as conventional, guided missile submarines (SSGNs).
This is achieved by the installation of vertical launch systems (VLS) in a configuration dubbed "Multiple All-up-round Canister (MAC)", which converts 22 of the 24 missile tubes which previously held one large nuclear-tipped strategic ballistic missile each, with 7 smaller Tomahawk cruise missiles, and the 2 remaining tubes are converted to Lock Out Chambers (LOC) to be used by SOF personnel who can be carried on board. The MAC tubes can also be used to carry and launch UAVs or UUVs which give the ship remote controlled "eyes & ears" allowing the ship to act as a forward-deployed command & control center. If the maximum of 154 Tomahawk missiles were loaded, one Ohio-class SSGN would carry an entire Battle Group's equivalent of cruise missiles. USS OHIO (SSGN 726) completed its conversion and began sea trials in early 2006.