I usually don’t reprint Amazon reviews, but I still can’t get over this one (of CHANUKAH GUILT) by editor extraordinaire Chris Roerden, the author of the award-winning books DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and DON’T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION (in which I’m cited; see review). She wrote:
I got a real kick from Chanukah Guilt because of the author’s clever, amusing language — such as for the titles of each of her books — though I admit that I haven’t read them all . . . yet. I read Chanukah Guilt when it was first published (before the second edition came out – which is the edition new readers to the work of Ilene Schneider should get). That’s when I found a perfect example of how an author can cite a cliché without falling into the trap of appearing to rely upon clichés herself, especially when portraying a protagonist in first-person.
In fact, I quoted that example in one of my own books for writers (with full credit, of course) to illustrate that very skill. Schneider uses clichés to convey the shock of her protagonist, Rabbi Aviva, on learning that a young woman she’d tried to counsel is dead. Aviva says “Clichés exist because they’re true. My heart leaped into my throat. I couldn’t breathe. The room was spinning. My vision dimmed.”
By naming each specific visceral feeling, Schneider portrays her character’s actual gut reactions to shock while also letting us know that SHE knows each is a cliché. Other less aware authors would either use clichés without recognizing that’s what they were (very common among most first-time authors) or use many more words than these to try portraying instant emotional reactions. As a book editor, I appreciated Schneider’s writing abilities while also enjoying the mystery.