Banishing Negative Book Reviews

Have you ever been stung by a bee? If you have, you know it’s painful from the moment the stinger pierces your skin. Ouch!

The sharpness of the pain can blot out the rest of the world. Eventually, you handle it and the pain lessens. So it is with a rejection letter or a bad review. They can sting at first, but it’s vital we take care of it before the pain takes over. In this post, I’m going to focus on overcoming the bad review.

For writers, books really are like our children. We give birth to the book, nourish and fuss over it, clean it up if the book seems messy, giving it all we’ve got. Sometimes, it keeps us up at night, makes us cry, brings us joy or drives us bonkers. We try to breathe life into our creations (on page, of course). It ain’t easy pouring pieces of our heart and soul into our writings. We expose our strengths and weaknesses, setting them loose in the world for all to see. If we writers are introverts, it makes the setting loose part all the more uneasy.

I’m very grateful for the lovely reviews I received from so many people I don’t know. VERY grateful. And I really don’t mind reviews that aren’t so great; my books aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Even so, when that not so lovely review contains barbs, it can sting. Sometimes, when we’re stung, we may stumble and fall and wallow awhile, before getting back up on our feet. Wallowing is no fun. Unless you’re a pig, of course.

There is no way to know what the book reviewer was thinking, feeling or expecting when reading our work. I’ve been known to open a book, dislike it instantly and put it away, only to come back to read it later and find I enjoyed it. When we send our human kids out into the world, they may not please everyone, but that’s not the goal, is it? The objective is to do our best at whatever task we undertake. That way our sense of accomplishment will not diminish, and what others say or think won’t matter. Also, it doesn’t hurt to read bad reviews given to great books to realize just how little bad reviews matter.

Why Blog?

Long time no see.

I think about writing a blog post, but when it comes right down to doing it, I’m either at the day job, working on my next book, promoting my latest book or eating and sleeping. But today, I realized just how much my blog posts have enhanced my writing life, and maybe even helped one or two of my dear readers. Here’s what I mean:

Beginning in April, with the release of MURDER GONE MISSING, I started my book tour, which meant I had the pleasure of giving a few talks. But what to talk about? That’s where my blog posts came in handy.

For my first stop, I appeared at an authors’ luncheon where I had to speak for two minutes or less about me and my books. I browsed through my blog posts and came up with my speech. I used the same speech (with a little bit of alteration) at the Malice Domestic Conference’s author speed dating where I visited twenty tables of ten listeners to talk about my books.

Fast forward a month or so, and my talks expanded. Which meant my blog posts were even more handy. After all, my whole writing journey appears in various forms in posts.

And where do you think I go when I need writing motivation? That’s right – first, I read quotes from BIG time authors, but eventually, I make my way to my blog posts and remember how wonderful I felt when writing my first book, and how I managed to get it done in the past. Which reminds me that I can do it again.

When the day arrived where I co-led a workshop at a writers’ conference, I knew where to go for material. I needed to do quite a bit of talking; two and one-half hours’ worth. It was during my preparation for that workshop that I felt most grateful for all the time I spent writing my blog posts. At my workshop session, I harbored the hope that what I had to share would entertain, educate and inspire other writers.
They looked happy to me. What do you think?

Writing Through the Fear

It’s no secret that we writers suffer bouts of fear now and then (maybe even more than just now and then) while we’re writing. I’m not talking about the kind of fear where the heart is pounding so hard it’s about to burst through the rib-cage. I’m talking the garden variety fear that prevents forward movement or progress. As much as I love gardens, we don’t want that kind of fear or any other variety in our lives.

Recently, I participated in a Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference Workshop designed to guide writers through and past any fears, and to forge ahead and carry on their writing. Fear-free. Here’s a summary of the outcome – plenty of solid suggestions to overcome fear to reach those two, oh-so-sweet words, “The End”:

– Free-write whatever your heart desires, or rant about the fear;
– Devise a ritual to get into the writing zone;
– Have you tried meditation or yoga to free the mind? Now may be a prime time to give it a go to make the fear disappear;
– Write right after waking up in the morning, and before doing anything else, while the mind is clear and open (unless you wake up from a distressing dream that’s hard to shake; if that happens skip this step and try again another time;
– Research (scan headlines or brainstorm) to shoo away the fear;
– Exercise. Movement can work wonders to free the mind and get you in the zone;
– Take a shower or bath to start the creative juices flowing;
– Try visualizing how marvelous you’ll feel once you’re done writing;
– Take on a writing prompt;
– Use tech tools to prevent distractions from thrashing around your writing life (e.g., writeordie.com, for instance);
– Create a special space just for your characters to “live” and “breathe”, to help bring them to life; and
– When all else fails, read for inspiration. Reading encourages words to flow through your head, crowding out any fears.