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Writer’s Roost Home Page

Last update: 23 June 2015

Welcome to Steven Houchin’s writing website. He is the author of novels, short stories, non-fiction articles, technical papers, and also performs editing services for other writers. He was honored when his second novel won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s 2007 Literary Contest in the Mystery/Thriller category. Also, he served as a judge in PNWA’s annual literary contest for both 2009 and 2010 in their Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.

Please check out his Writer’s Roost BLOG. It contains book reviews, announcements, and articles on the writing craft. Please post your comments on any of the articles. Also, take a look at our list of upcoming Literary Conferences and Contests.

By the way, if you think you are related to Steven, check out his family genealogy website.

News items:

** Steven’s article “A Journey Through Time” appears in the October 2011 issue of Northwest Prime Time magazine. It tells the story of a letter he wrote while in kindergarten that returned to him 49 years later, unopened.

** Steven gave an interview about his writing experience to local Seattle author Norma Nill, which you can read on her blog.

** Steven served as guest blogger at the Literary Liasons site with a posting titled “So, You Want to Win a Literary Contest?” In it, he explains some of the factors that will help your manuscript break through the clutter of contest entries to maximize the chance of winning.

** Steven’s non-fiction article “McGraw Square” was published in the Summer 2009 issue (Vol. 23 No. 2) of Columbia Magazine, a publication of the Washington State Historical Society. It details the history of a statue in downtown Seattle that honors John McGraw, who served in the 1880s and 1890s as King County Sheriff and Washington’s second governor.



Literary Agents and the Police

Some writer friends told me about a panel of literary agents they'd heard at a local writer's conference. They moderated an open critique session, where the panel read snippets of attendees' work and offered their quick opinion. Some readings were the opening pages of novels, some were drafts of agent query letters, some were story ideas. The agents were reported to be rude, insulting, and dismissive of the authors' works, offering little in the way of constructive advice or encouragement. In other words, they acted like insensitive snobs bent on crushing the budding authors' dreams.

This all happened about the time of the Baltimore riots, where police were accused of causing the death of an arrested suspect due to negligence or worse. It all got me thinking about group behavior of those in power over others.

Our police have a difficult job, to say the least. Every day, they encounter many of the worst sorts in our society: drug dealers, violent gangs, thieves and burglars, rapists, wife beaters, murderers, liars and cheats. They face disrespect, resisting arrest, fleeing suspects, and numerous false cries of racism and brutality. Every day. On and on. They are human, and the daily dose of inhumanity and crime takes its toll until some, it seems, become jaded and insensitive to the people they encounter on the job. They may become gruff, short-tempered, and too quick to use force. And so the innocent may feel a bit roughed-up, leading to resentment and claims of brutality.

Enter the literary agents. A bit analogous to the police, they, too, are deluged each day with many of the worst sorts in the literary world: inane story ideas, amateurish query letters, sloppy chapter submissions, ignored submission rules, endless cat stories, authors making pitches over the bathroom urinals, and just plain bad writing. Day after day. On and on. So do they, too, become jaded and insensitive, expecting every new submission to be mindless crap? Do they have a knee-jerk reaction at writers' conferences that, of course, everything they hear is worthy of derision, no matter how much it hurts?

Just wondering.

Steven Houchin -- 22 June 2015

To see previous essays and musing about writing, please visit my Web Log.