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Monthly Archives: September 2009

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Best Author Response EVER

Published authors get hit with the worst criticism at times. Everybody has an opinion and is happy to spread it all over the Internet. So what do you do, as a writer, when you receive a negative or downright slamming review of your book?

Some writers suggest you ignore the negative ones. That idea has a certain amount of merit. Why dwell on the bad? Not everyone in the world is going to like you and not everyone will like your book, so just ignore it and let it go.

Above all, experienced writers will tell you not to respond to a negative review. You won’t be able to change the reviewer’s mind and you’ll just come across as defensive and possibly as attacking the reviewer. Not to mention, opening yourself to more criticism based on your response.

That seems like wise advice to follow. But recently I came across an author who chose to ignore that advice and the results were incredible.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is a site that posts reviews on romance books. They aren’t timid in their reviews–oh no, they tell you exactly what they think of a book, good or bad. One of the books recently reviewed was Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy.

Okay, I see the confused look – Pregnesia is a coined term stemming from “pregnant amnesiac”. Yes, the heroine in the story is… a pregnant amnesiac. (I’m sure Carla’s publisher stuck her with that title, though which person at Harlequin thought that was a great marketing title is a gigantic and confounding mystery.)

The review is typical SBTB–it pulls no punches in its list of 26 reasons why Pregnesia is the best book in the history of pregnant amnesiac romance books. Yes, you see the tongue-in-cheek comments coming, don’t you. The review is hilarious. It pokes fun at various aspects of the novel–unbelievable characters, plot holes and other general ridiculous happenings.

So far… a typical negative review. Funny, but negative. As the author I’d be embarrassed and probably angry to read such a review. We put our hearts into our books–who can stand to see them ridiculed?

Conventional writer wisdom says that Carla should have just ignored the review. But she didn’t. And her response to the review was the absolute BEST author response in the history of writing.

10 Reasons I love this review and other musings by the author of Pregnesia

  1. Any publicity is better than no publicity
  2. My original title was Pregnesia-The Story of A Pregnant Princess with Amnesia Who Lusts For An Ex-Navy Seal Turned Sheik Cowboy. Unfortunately, it was too long.
  3. Any publicity is better than no publicity
  4. I was working out my issues about being kidnapped by a blood-thirsty cult who might think I was eight months pregnant.
  5. Any publicity is better than no publicity
  6. I was hoping you’d tell me about the big plot hole. It’s been bothering me for months!
  7. Any publicity is better than no publicity
  8. Stay tuned for my next blockbuster – Virgin Bride With Secret Babies Wants A Cop who Rides The Range
  9. Reading the Review Made me think of comfort food. Thanks for giving me a reason to eat a box of Twinkies, four cupcakes and a box of macaroni and cheese. And it’s not even noon – and now I will have to watch out for those evil cult members who might lust after my pseudo-pregnant body!
  10. Thanks for reminding me you gotta take the good with the bad and I hope readers will check out my next book, Five Minutes to Marriage and my OCT release from Signet – Up Close and Personal. Hey, I should be able to get a little self-promo from all this!

Carla Cassidy

Is that not the best?? Carla responded with grace and humor that exactly matched the tone of the review. I don’t think I could respond so well to a negative review. I’m in awe of her.

And the best part of the entire thing was how the blog readers responded to her classy, awesome comment. 32 readers left comments that they had bought the book, were going to buy the book or were going to buy ALL of Carla’s books because of the great review and her incredible response to it. Is there any better publicity for a writer or easier marketing plan than to answer critical reviews with a sense of humor? How long would it take you to hand-sell 32 books? Carla did it in just a few minutes.

Note to all writers out there: If you can’t ignore negative reviews, take a lesson from Carla and make your response fun and light-hearted. The reward in reader loyalty and free publicity is more than worth it.

And go check out the review of Pregnesia and then buy the book!

Na Na Na Fangirl!

I arrive early and wander into the coffee shop at the library.  My jaw drops and I try to keep it together.  The last thing I want is to look like an idiot, too late, considering I’m standing there catching flies.  Sitting in the middle of the shop is the one, the only, Rachel Caine.  Fangirl gushes to the surface, but I smack her down, manage to shut my mouth and head to the counter.

Waiting for my dose of caffeine I sneak covert looks—okay, not so covert. I’m no Bond girl—at the woman.  Don’t go over there. Go over there. Hey, she deserves her quiet time before she has to stand there fielding questions from crazy fans like yours truly.  The little war raging in my head is cut short as she gets up to leave and comes to a complete halt when one of the librarians escorts her away.

Shoes Rachel Caine Tweeted About

Shoes Rachel Caine Tweeted About

With a sigh of relief, I silently thank the librarian for taking her away before I make a complete dork out of myself.  Problem is they don’t take her far enough.  They’re gathered at the front desk chatting and that’s when I notice she’s wearing the ankle boots she tweeted about.

There it is again no longer lurking in the shadows, but pushing to the surface.  Fangirl!  I fight the urge to squeal and point for that would surly turn into clapping and jumping up and down as I giggle.  I’ve got to get a hold of myself, no woman my age should be acting like this!  Hell, I didn’t act this childish when I was in my twenties and met Kip Winger.  And he kissed my hand.  Luckily the librarian leads her away.

With yet another sigh of relief I start watching for Cheryl.  Yes, that Cheryl.  Oops sorry I forgot you can’t see me pointing to my fellow SW buddy.  You can read about her take on our night out at Learn To Write Fiction.  I promise it will be a lot more polished, professional and educational too.  As I wait for Cheryl and her beau I wander the magazine racks and guess who is sitting just beyond them.  The little war starts again but I side with the little angel on my right shoulder and make my way toward the doors.

Now that little sigh of relief is triggered by the arrival of, oh so calm, Cheryl.  If I were her I’d head for the hills at the sight of my glazed eyes and flushed cheeks.  Instead she grins and shows me what I kick myself for not thinking of, her camera.

Five on the dot the doors open and we enter the conference room.  This is where Fangirl shows up again.  Rachel is doing a PowerPoint presentation and her desktop is projected onto the wall.  ‘Damn,’ I say to Cheryl, ‘I’m looking into a real writer’s computer.’  She laughs, but I feel like some big secret has been revealed to me.

When the program begins I manage to stop gawking and pay attention.  I even take notes.  The Hammer Films retrospect hits a soft spot, Fangirl of course is screeching in my ear, ‘She likes Hammer Films too!’  I’m a little more than tired of her and her antics, it’s become easier to ignore.  Then Rachel decides to do the drawing for the door prizes.

Fangirl & Rachel

Fangirl & Rachel

One guess as to whose number she draws for the grand prize.  Fangirl…I mean mine.  Walking over to accept my prize—the audio of Glass Houses—I attempt to hold my breath.  Yeah, that works.  Instead of keeping my cool I stand there like a moron and try to hand her my ticket.  The librarian looks at me a little strangely, but hey I deserve it.

Once the program is over I get the extreme pleasure of meeting the people behind bringing Rachel to Iowa.  Rockwell City Librarian Sarah Weiss and her partner in crime Cosmetologist Angel Crouse. These girls are a delight and not only does one work in a library like yours truly, but the other is a stylist my previous profession!  Talk about a cowinky-dink.  The girls as well as Rachel graciously agree to let us post their picture and even their real names, none of that changing the names to protect the innocent stuff.  After all the only thing they are guilty of is bringing the magic that is Rachel Caine to Iowa and writing damn good books!

 Angel, Rachel & Sarah

Angel, Rachel & Sarah

And with that we put Fangirl back in the shadowy recesses of my mind where she belongs.  Call her out at your own risk.  Pointing, clapping, jumping and much giggling will ensue.  Not to mention incessant babbling!

The Pursuit of Perfect Happiness

     My latest project – outside the many writing projects I have going – is the pursuit of a true Study in my home, a place totally dedicated to writing. In this pursuit I understand a lot of work is ahead of me. I plan to have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with my ever growing collection of books…I can picture it in my head and the picture launches me into my own nirvana.

     The first step in the project was to pick out the perfect color of paint. My woodwork is white, the floors are the original but refinished wood, and window coverings are still undecided. The wall color needs to be perfect. I needed a soothing but warm color that will nurture my creativity while working in there. I chose grey.

     What I didn’t know – and soon found out as I started the paint shopping process – was that there are literally hundreds of different variations of the color grey out there! Now remember, I am an artist, but also a has-been Interior Decorating Consultant (not as glamorous as it sounds), so you’d think I would know this.

     Paint me clueless!

     I had to call in a friend for help. She is not an artist or a writer – she’s much more level headed and normal – so I thought she would be perfect for the job of decision maker.

     I was correct.

     She didn’t see that one grey had a tint of blue in it, one had a tint of green, and one was too pink, etc. She just held the different swatches up to the wall and told me what looked best.

     As simple as that.

     At some point I had turned my life into something where nothing was perfect enough. Why can’t I just enjoy something without over analyzing it, picking it apart, and trying to make it perfect? Chill out!

     It’s the same with my writing.

     I have fallen into the bad habit of never being comfortable with it not being perfect. My writer friends attend critique groups where they offer up pieces of their writing for other writers to read and make suggestions on.

     Can I do that?

     EEK!

     Maybe after I’ve put a few years of rejections behind me. At this point, I am more comfortable having a complete stranger – like a potential agent or publisher – pick apart my manuscripts than my own friends.

     I wouldn’t be as embarassed about doing a bad job if a total stranger saw it as opposed to my writer friends. Right?

     How would I ever face them if they read some of my stuff and it wasn’t good enough? Yes, these thoughts do run through my mind. Humiliation on a local level is far worse that long-distance humiliation. I have to face my friends, where it’s much easier to hide in shame from an agent located in New York or California. Or I could always change my name…

     Twisted, huh?

     Nope, just the thoughts of an as-yet-unpublished writer working on building up her self confidence. I’ve got a long road ahead of me.

I’m In Love and Oh-So-Happy

I’ve had Gemma floating around in my head for about two years. The first scene has always been there. I love the first scene. It’s fun and sad and definitely has tension. But I’ve been stuck: what comes after the first scene? I couldn’t get a firm handle on that. Hell, I couldn’t even get a gelatinous wiggle. The protagonist presented herself fully formed, which is always helpful. And I knew it was about living up to potential, and I knew it was about conquering fear, and of course I knew, since it’s me, the emotional content has to be wrapped in lightness rather than darkness. So that’s a lot of knowing. There’s clearly a lot of opportunity, a lot of ways to take a story like this. But none of them worked. This story turned up its nose at every possible vision I offered. 
     And that resulted in a very solid inability to write. 
     Then one night over pancakes (really, breakfast foods are miraculous on so many levels) with a friend, the solution came to me. [Side note to Natalie, maybe that’s what was ‘magic’: pancakes!]
     Now I’m in the throes of new love: researching 1940 Los Angeles and travel in the ‘50s, Woodstock, real estate in Santa Barbara in 1970; making up a scandalous past that is worthy of my favorite writerly quote (“Laughs, sex scenes, detailed dinner menus, clever wordplay and enough old-fashioned narrative to blacken one’s fingers through vigorous page turning…”); and figuring out how to write two distinct but equally fantastic women – one comfortable in her skin from the time she could crawl, the other rediscovering the self that would have and should have been if not for some misdirection caused by others’ actions. This is pure joy, this sort of writing, the discovery, the fun, the “Oh my god where did that come from I love it!” All writing should be like this. I know it’s not going to be, I know that at some point I’ll be in that part where I feel like my writer brain is immersed in concrete and it’s hardening fast, but for now I’m holding onto the energy that is fueled by writing joy and I’m flying through the possibilities at the speed of light.
     Damn, but I love new love.

90-Day Novel-Day 90 Check-in

90 Day Novel Challenge

It’s Day 90 of the 90-Day Novel Challenge!! Last day! Humongous kudos and congratulations to Deanne and Natalie for making it through the long haul to the last day!!

Leave a comment below with the number of words you completed today or just tell us how you’re doing.

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. ~Isaac Asimov

90-Day Novel-Day 89 Check-in

90 Day Novel Challenge

It’s Day 89 of the 90-Day Novel Challenge.

Leave a comment below with the number of words you completed today or just tell us how you’re doing.

Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there. ~Thomas Berger

90-Day Novel-Day 88 Check-in

90 Day Novel Challenge

It’s Day 88 of the 90-Day Novel Challenge.

Leave a comment below with the number of words you completed today or just tell us how you’re doing.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair, the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page ~Stephen King

90-Day Novel-Day 87 Check-in

90 Day Novel Challenge

It’s Day 87 of the 90-Day Novel Challenge.

Leave a comment below with the number of words you completed today or just tell us how you’re doing.

If you want to write you must have faith in yourself. Faith enough to believe that if a thing is true about you, it is likely true about many people. And if you can have faith in your integrity and your motives, then you can write about yourself without fear. ~Anonymous author of RealLivePreacher.com

90-Day Novel-Day 86 Check-in

90 Day Novel Challenge

It’s Day 86 of the 90-Day Novel Challenge.

Leave a comment below with the number of words you completed today or just tell us how you’re doing.

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. ~John Irving