Dealing With Bad Reviews

Dealing With Bad Reviews by Colby Marshall

When we send our own pieces of writing into the world, be they in book form or blog or a poem written on a sheet of notebook paper, we always believe they’re worth something. In fact, we don’t just think they’re worth something. They’re our babies, and most of the time, we think they’re pretty. Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful that “baby” is, someone is going to think it looks funny. Therefore, I’m proud to present to you the Top Ten Ways to Deal With a Bad Review:  Colby Marshall

1. Sit on your hands. Repeat after me: “Never will I ever engage a reviewer, even if I think he or she is wrong.” He didn’t understand the story. She must not have read the whole book. Who does he think he is? Stephen King? While all of these may be valid responses in your mind, they won’t be to the person who wrote the review and will only make you look sour. The person writing the review has nothing to lose. You do. Keep your cool. There will be those who love your book, and then, there will be those who don’t. You can’t win ‘em all.

2. Use your phone a friend. When you have those urges to spew venom back at the reviewer and tell them exactly what kind of cross between a donkey and a baboon he must be to not understand the subtle brilliance and intricacies of your book, call and vent to a friend instead. You’ll get it out, plus, it won’t be in writing to come back to haunt you.

3. Re-read the positive. Remember that first good review you got, or that time your mom read your first draft and assured you it was perfect, you shouldn’t change a word? Now’s the time to pull that reinforcement to the forefront of your screen. Remind yourself that for every naysayer, there’s someone who subjectively likes your work.

4. Look up your role models. Quick! Head to your favorite author’s Amazon page! Now, scroll down to the reviews. I guarantee there is at least one one or two star rating. Click on it. Read it. See? Even the biggest, most awesome authors get bad reviews. It’s part of the game, so you’ve earned your stripes.

5. Say a bad word. You know you thought it…it’s better to go ahead and let it rip in the privacy of your own home. Now, don’t you feel better?

6. Write your own bad review of some book you didn’t like. Then, promptly delete it, because dang it, you’re not a jerk like that guy who left you one!

7. Now, write your own good review of the latest book you read and liked. Post it. Because dang it, karma will come around.

8. Have some chocolate or a glass of wine. Hey, you deserve a reward for being such a caring son of gun and leaving that positive review.

9. Laugh. You, your readers, your friends, and your dog all know that it was hilarious how the gal who left her evil mark on your masterpiece misspelled the word “alliteration,” and that she called your character Biscuit instead of Bruno. Take a moment to chuckle at the review. I promise it’ll help it to slide right off your back.

10. Most importantly, take note of anything the ridiculous, horribly-thought out, mean, short-sighted review might’ve actually gotten right. Hey, even wicked people can stumble on a good point now and then. Put it down in your mental notebook so that next time, he or she won’t have it to comment on. Then, go ahead and write something else and stop thinking about it. You’ve given it ten steps…in this case, you’ve admitted you have a problem, so twelve steps would be too many.

How do you deal with negative feedback?

ABOUT CHAIN OF COMMAND:  Chain of Command

The road to the Oval Office is paved in blood…

The simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President catapults the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first female President of the United States. Evidence points to a former Navy SEAL as one of the assassins.

Relegated to writing sidebar stories instead of headlines, journalist McKenzie McClendon composes a scathing story about the Navy training killers.

Former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins doesn’t believe his partner could have committed the heinous crime. They’d endured the horrors of Afghanistan together. His buddy was a hero, not a murderer.

No one who knows the truth is safe…

Thrown together in a search for the truth–and a career-making story–McKenzie and Noah must unravel a dangerous web of lies that includes a radical foreign faction, a violent ultra-feminist group, and corrupt politicians willing to kill to keep their secrets.

And an assassin who is still on the loose.

His next targets are already in his crosshairs…

Chain of Command is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iBooks, Kobo, other major e-readers, directly from the publisher at StairwayPress.com (free shipping), or in select independent bookstores.

Watch the official book trailer for Chain of Command here: http://tinyurl.com/auye6bb.

You can learn more about Colby and her books at www.colbymarshall.com

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About Colby Marshall

Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic. In addition to her 9,502 regular jobs, she is also a contributing columnist for M Food and Culture magazine and is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer as well as sometimes indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress. She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her immediately for crazy cat lady status. Her debut thriller, Chain of Command is about a reporter who discovers the simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President may have been a plot to rocket the very first woman—the Speaker of the House—into the presidency. Chain of Command is now available, and the second book in her McKenzie McClendon series, The Trade, is due for publication by Stairway Press in June 2013.

Tami Hoag

NY Times bestselling author Tami Hoag was the guest speaker at the Florida Romance Writers August 11th meeting. Tami began by describing how different things were in the publishing world when she started out at this career. She wrote in longhand and typed up her pages. Then she sold the second book she’d written and the computer age dawned. In those days, computers were expensive, unusual to own, and not justified in her mind until her career blossomed.

Tami RoseSml   Tami Nan

Tami Hoag and FRW President Rose Lawson        Tami, Rose, and Nancy J. Cohen (center)

“I always wanted to be a writer”, Tami said, but she admitted that in those days, she didn’t read romance. She was a self-confessed “book snob” with preconceived notions about the romance genre. But then a friend at an event gave her a historical romance by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and on the way home, Tami’s car broke down. She had nothing else to read and started the book. That hooked her, and she went on to become an avid romance fan.

Still, she wanted to write but wasn’t sure where to start. She’d been learning about the business through Romantic Times Magazine and didn’t know any other writers in the area. After researching the markets on her own, she realized she could write comedy and chose Bantam Loveswept as her target. She liked them because they didn’t pigeonhole their authors. They allowed their writers to push the boundaries within category romance. Tami acquired an agent and got published writing romantic comedies. She joined RWA and eventually crossed over into suspense.

Tami1  Tami2

My camera battery is about to die; hence the discoloration.

Why does she like to write dark stories now? Her interest in psychology compels her to write edge-of-your-seat thrillers. “Character is the heart of everything.” Psychology and the dynamics between characters are the driving force behind these tales. “Crime is the structure for human interaction.” Also, readers must care about the characters. She begins her stories with a crime and then focuses on the investigators. The cops are the linchpins who can see all sides of a case and who can delve into the psyches of the other characters. Tami admits she’s a pantser rather than a plotter, and she never outlines. Does she ever face a hurdle? Sometimes she’ll write a character into a corner, but she views this as an opportunity, not a blockade.

Tami has another occupation, and that’s what keeps her sane. She’s into horse dressage or “horse dancing”, as some people call it. Both this field and writing require strict discipline. She enters show competitions during the winter. Whenever deadlines are getting to her, she tells herself to “go to the barn.” Being with her horses frees up her subconscious. She compares being on a horse and centered on what she’s doing to meditation. “It’s essential to my creative process.”FRW Aug12   FRW BoardSml

Chatting before the meeting                                   FRW Board/Past and Present

Does writing get any easier? Her answer is negative, not even after so many books. As for the current state of publishing, “It’s a fear-driven business.” The market is terrible, and there’s competition from other media. You won’t find the same optimism that we found in the eighties. Back then, publishers said, “there are so many readers, we want content!” Now they say, “there are so many readers and we want content, but we have no money to pay you.” The prevailing climate is one of fear and desperation. On the good side, more opportunities exist for new writers to break in.

Regarding research, Tami started out with a hands-on approach, where she consulted cops and FBI personnel, but by now she pretty much has a handle on the procedures. Movies? A two-part miniseries was done on her book in 1997 but nothing since. She’s had a lot of film options but they haven’t led anywhere.

What’s next for her? The Ninth Girl brings back homicide cops from Minneapolis who appeared in a previous story. Pressured by her publisher to write an ebook, she penned a novella that acts as a prequel. Normally, Tami says, “I’m not known for brevity. I don’t write short stories.” As for her novels, she has ideas “stacked up on the runway.” While friends of hers are writing to double their capacity, Tami believes you have to fight for time to enjoy life. And although she likes to challenge herself and grow as a writer, Tami still manages to be surprised when she achieves something new.

After the morning meeting adjourned, a bunch of members took Tami to lunch at The Field Irish Pub in Davie.

My husband and I had just eaten there the night before, so I didn’t go. It’s a neat place with entertainment on weekends.

The Field1    The Field2

Hummus Aug12   P1010822 (511x800)

Hummus Appetizer                                        Here’s a toast to you!

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Tami Hoag asked her Facebook friends the following question. They voted for number one. What would you say?

Would you rather (1) wait for a really good book by your favorite author, or (2) have your favorite author produce more books at a faster rate but knowing that might lessen the quality?

Fact or Fiction?

Do you write about real life events in your fictional story? As a reader, how can you tell fact from fiction? Are some ideas so far out that they should be relegated to science fiction, or is there a kernel of truth in them? Where do the lines blur?

At Saturday’s meeting of the Florida chapter of MWA, we heard speaker Jim Linder, former Navy aviator and intelligence agent. This man—tall, dark, and handsome—lived a life you’d only find in books. A self-professed fan of Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum novels, as a youth he aspired to adventure. He found it in the work he did. A romance hero come alive, Linder said “the fictional and the real world blend together. Whatever story you want to tell, it’s probably already out there.”

He told stories of notorious Russian smuggler Victor Bout, of how pirates smuggle diesel fuel to diamond mines in South Africa, and of how there’s a market among drug runners for mini-submarines made in the States. “There are bad guys out there who are richer and more powerful than anyone in fiction,” he says. The upsurge in social media has made a difference in his current consulting position. “We use social media a lot. Finding information isn’t the problem. Connecting with the person who has the info is harder.”

As for myself, I use personal experiences and composites of people I meet in my stories.

For example, the Countess in Killer Knots was based on a white-haired lady I noticed on a cruise. She always wore the most fabulous outfits. When I got up the nerve to ask where she shopped, “Paris” was her answer. Why was I not surprised?

In Perish by Pedicure, I visited the North Miami shvitz where Marla goes to interview a suspect. Now, that was an experience!

And the setting in Shear Murder was inspired by Harry P. Leu Gardens in Winter Park, where I’ve been many times. Marla journeys to Coral Gables and the Venetian Pool, another local gem I’d discovered. Visits to the dermatologist and dentist show up in some of my books—in Marla’s viewpoint, of course. Plus a reading from a psychic that I’d experienced shows up in Died Blonde.

Even in Warrior Prince, my upcoming paranormal release, the action starts out in Orlando, Florida on International Drive. The sinister theme park in this story is partially based on an attraction that used to be in the Fort Lauderdale area and designed with other theme parks in mind. I’ll have to admit, though, the action that follows is purely imaginary. Well, almost.

One of the bad guys uses what I call an EM (electromagnetic) grenade in Warrior Rogue: Book Two in the Drift Lords Series. “Are EM weapons real or the stuff of sci-fi?” I asked our speaker. He gave a broad grin. “Many of the things you’d relegate to science fiction are already here.”

Being An Earnest Researcher

The Importance of Being Earnest Researcher by J.H. Bogran

The truth is that you never know who may end up reading the works you publish, so the best course of action is to be sure of what you write is accurate.

Last year I was reading a story where the main character took his toddler to Disney World and made a point of mentioning the kid had enjoyed a particular attraction. I was immediately surprised because when I took my own kid to that same attraction, he cried his heart out; he freaked out in the dark environment. After calming my five-year-old I took a closer look at the program and indeed it had a warning stating the attraction may be frightening for small children. So, don’t ask me what happened in the immediate chapters because I fumed about the tiny little thing for the next following pages of the novel.                  JH Bogran cover

For my novel in Spanish—Heredero del Mal or Heir of Evil—I had short prologue where I show Adolph Hitler smoking a cigar when it’s a well-known fact that he didn’t smoke nor drink. A keen observer brought this fact to my attention just before the book went into print. After a self-imposed and much deserved slap on the face I went to correct that detail.

There are other examples like people telling they made sure the safety is on when they have a revolver. Revolvers, wheel-guns, six-shooters, whatever you want to call them, don’t sport a safety. They are very secure weapons because they are reliable, durable, and overall very cool. A revolver plays a very important part during the climax of my novel Treasure Hunt.

K. L. (Karen) Dionne wrote an ecological thriller titled Boiling Point. The climax was atop an erupting volcano. She had the opportunity to travel down to Chile and visit the Chaiten Volcano there. She saw the aftermath, the ashes, smelled the sulfur, and heard the chirping birds or the lack of them. It was an eye opener experience for her and Boiling Point is a much better book because of it. Karen wrote a bit about her adventure in Chile.

Of course, not everybody is lucky enough to visit intended locations. However, you can contact people who have been there, get maps, or read the almanac.

The internet is one of my most valuable tools for research. One bit of advice, though, is don’t believe all you read online; search for secondary confirmation. Another fabulous research tool is a questionnaire. Search through your network of friends—remember Six Degrees of Separation? It works—and find a person in the profession or field that you plan to write about. People generally like to talk about their day job so it’s not like pulling teeth.

When it comes to names, they must also be researched thoroughly. My main character in The Assassin’s Mistress uses the alias of Robert I. Prescott, or R.I.P. His thinking is that once he takes a contract, his target goes to Rest in Peace. My research struck gold when I discovered the French name Chantal means “stone.” I had just found my female lead character and Robert’s love interest’s name.

In the end, the knowledge the author acquires before the final draft goes great lengths to improve the story. The details seep through the page and they even help with the suspension of disbelief. If you read all the way to the end of this post, I guess you know what my favorite part of penning a new novel is.

JH Bogran Author

Author Bio and Links:

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

Website at: www.jhbogran.net
Blog: www.thetaleweaver.blogspt.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jhbogran
Twitter: @JHBogran

Blurb for The Assassin’s Mistress

A random encounter leads to deception, love and murder. While vacationing at a ski resort, professional hitman Robert Prescott meets a strange and beautiful woman. They discover passion and embark into a dangerous game hiding their relationship from her powerful husband. Then a further twist of fate makes Robert’s occupation collide with his new found love.

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BOC0OW