Putting writing out into the world is a scary, scary thing. Some people will love your work and some may hate it. Not that long ago one- or two-star reviews could tie my stomach up in knots. It bothered me that someone had paid to read a story of mine and disliked it so much that they felt compelled to leave a horrible rating.
When I got my first low-star review, I wanted to contact the person and give them a refund. It seemed like good customer service to me, a chance to apologize and make it right. My earliest jobs were in service and the customer is always right had been ingrained into my psyche. But I decided not to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that bookstores seem to be very fair to customers with their return policy. But the primary reason is a cardinal rule for writers: do not engage with your reviewers, good or bad.
Eventually the sting of my first low stars wore off. I’ve been blessed with far more high-star ratings and emails from readers who truly enjoyed my work. Why spend time and energy worrying about the others? I couldn’t change it even if I wanted. The old saying about pleasing some of the people-all of the people-some of the time-all of the time had become manifest in my life. After all, there’s a reason that saying became a cliché.
All that aside, there are still reviews that bother me. Readers who misinterpret my intention, who don’t understand what I was saying–or rather, trying to say—really, really, really bother me. No one wants to be misunderstood whether you’ve taken six months of your life or six years of your life to craft the book and build a theme into it and have people come away with the exactly the opposite of what you were aiming for. Not good, not good at all.
So, I feel the need to defend or explain what I was trying to do with My Wishful Thinking, because several reviewers have complained that there are no consequences for the girls by wishing poorly. This is simply not true.
*SPOILER ALERT* If you haven’t read the book, I’m going to get into some very specific examples so maybe you want to skip ahead or skip altogether.
First of all, it’s true that not every wish had consequences. When the girls wished for the rain to stop, climate change didn’t ensue. When they wished for a jumbo free, no cal Frostie they broke no laws about large, unhealthy beverages.
But every other wish did have a consequence, and usually not a good one. It may not have been the outcome the reader was wishing for, but there you have it–wishing doesn’t always get you exactly what you want.
One wish/consequence I want to elaborate on, because it was mentioned specifically by one or two of the reviewers, was the girls’ shoe wish. Someone felt this was akin to stealing. First, I want to say that this is a magical world, where things materialize out of thin air, so, no, in my mind the shoes did not go *poof* from the store to Em’s home. What the girls received is a “copy” of the shoes. No shoe store, or other customer with the same size was injured in the making of the shoe wish. The result? The enormous pile of crap that the girls had to deal with.
I’m going to digress here. About a year before writing this story a friend of a friend passed away and they were tasked with handling the estate. The woman who died had been a hoarder. I know there are reality TV shows about this, but unless you’ve actually been confronted with a home like this you have no idea. It’s truly, truly mind boggling, and is some kind of psychological sickness. She had not just one pair of every shoe imaginable, but multiple pairs. Ten pairs of the same sneaker. Most had been worn, because the soles were dirty, but the shoes were not anywhere close to worn out. One room was literally floor to ceiling clothes. Sometimes she had bought twenty or thirty of the same shirt—five white, five yellow, three black and on and on, most of them still tagged.
Before going to her condo, my friends had told me about what they were facing, but the full impact of what they were saying did not hit home until I saw it. It was, in a word, overwhelming. Seeing that, changed my views on having and acquiring stuff. I’ve become much more selective about purchases, and now spend a little time every day getting rid of things. This is the result of this wish. The feeling of helplessness and “what do I do with all this” that comes from an over abundance. It may not be what was expected by readers, but the wish delivered results that the girls hadn’t anticipated.
Some of the other wishes had silly consequences. Like when Em’s new and improved boobs made it so that she couldn’t wear her favorite shirts. Certainly, this is not earth-shattering and even seems shallow, but it was an unintended result of something she hadn’t fully thought through.
Without spoiling every wish, I’ll just say that most had somewhat comical results. This book was intended to be a light commentary on wishing well. I do realize there can be dark outcomes from greed and that was my point in writing the story, but I didn’t want to write a super dark story. I’m not that kind of writer and I wouldn’t do a good job of it. I’ll leave that to the horror writers.
Still, I want to point out that there was one dark result of wanting what you want when you want it—the magician. His soul, after years of selfishness, had putrefied to the point that he was a caricature of evil. The girls never reached that point, they’d only been wishing for a week or two, but the idea of what they could become existed in the story. No one would want to be the magician, and so it was a cautionary tale.
One reviewer was bothered by the happy ending after all these bad wishes, but I’d like to point out that happiness only came into Lo’s life when she focused on others, rescuing Eugene because he needed rescuing, wishing for her mom. Eugene’s sacrifice and resurrection is ultimately what brought joy to her life, allegorically speaking.
Okay, so there you have it, my view of the book I wrote.
I’ve been debating about writing this post for a while. Because I’m worried that it could be interpreted as engaging with reviewers. I thought and thought and thought, and then I finally decided that I just wanted to be on record about my intent.
Yes, I understand that there are consequences. There always are. That was the whole point in writing it. And now, because I didn’t do a Music Monday post, here’s a song that sums up how I feel about this.
Years ago my hubby gave me a copy of Bartlett’s Quotations, which I can lose myself in for hours because there are so many wise and thoughtful things said throughout the ages. It’s tucked onto the “most important” reference shelf on my desk along with my Flip Dictionary. But, the other day, I read a quote on-line about “doing.” I loved what it had to say and instead of reaching for Bartlett’s I stayed on the computer. Using Google, I ended up at brainyquote.com and found out it was attributed to Leonardo daVinci, who definitely had quite a bit of experience in doing.
So, of course I read everything that Leonardo had to say about life, the universe, and everything. Although we can’t meet this genius doesn’t mean we can’t glean something from him in our time. And then I wondered, “What did Michelangelo have to say? Anything quotable?”
Because Michelangelo is mentioned and admired by Grace in Winging It! And he’s going to make an appearance in book two and I was mulling over what would happen in that scene. What did the artist think about? Would there be quotes to help me to bring him to life on the page?
So guess what quote popped up first on the site.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
At any rate, he said many other wise and wonderful things, and then I started to wonder if he might say one of these to Grace.
You know what? I think he just might.
So today’s post is an a capella version of “Because” by the Beatles.
Because…I really wanted to do a Music Monday post.
Because…I wanted to do something about the Grammy’s but had dinner at someone else’s house, missed some, watched a little, then fell asleep early.
Because…I recently learned that John Lennon composed this song after Yoko played Mozart’s “Moonlight Sonata” backwards.
Because…this voice-only version is (IMO) more beautiful than the one from Abbey Road with the electronic harpsichord.
Because …this is my favorite Beatles song and they are the bomb.
Because …I can keep this post short and I have a lot to do today.
Because…the moments of silence are inspiring.
Now, you should listen, because…
Sometimes research is one of the best parts of being a writer, because you get to stumble upon all sorts of amazing things.
This morning I was working on a scene for the second book of the Angel in Training series. The scene is set in NYC’s Grand Central Station and I was looking at some very cool images and ran across this article in The Telegraph. Sweet serendipity! Grand Central is turning 100 this weekend. So there were all kinds of interesting facts, and really I recommend going to the article if only to see the main picture, because doo,doo,doo,doo — it reminds me of the scene I wrote a couple days ago.
And then, there was this video. If you read the first book in the series you know all about freeze time and will definitely want to check this out! One question for you: is my muse playing practical jokes again?
It’s at the heart of every good story. It can be the main character versus nature, or society, or themselves, but often it’s shown through conflict with another character. Recently, I’ve re-immersed myself into the POV of Grace Lightbourne, the impulsive and sometimes outspoken Angel in Training from WINGING IT! Grace seems to end up at odds with so many characters — Archangel Michael, fellow Guardian Aisha, her Dominion-roomie Faith. But, I was writing a scene in the second book where Grace has a dispute with Mercy, and it made me uncomfortable. So, it was time to take a break, and take a walk.
In go the ear buds, on goes Pandora, and then comes this song (which, BTW, I hadn’t heard in a long time.) It reminded me that the conflict with Grace and Mercy can be worked out, and to just go ahead and write the scene.
Tension between people who care about each other is normal and natural. In fact, it’s a lot easy to let things go when you don’t care, right?
In MY WISHFUL THINKING, two best friends, Logan and Emily, must share a genie, which inevitably leads to conflict. In DOLPHIN GIRL Jane has conflict with her mom, but loves her with all her heart. Both of those conflicts made the story stronger and I hope made my readers care more deeply about the outcome. So, having faced my fear of conflict, it’s back to writing the story.
Oh, and if you’re curious about the conflict between Logan and Emily in MY WISHFUL THINKING, it’s featured today over at the Free Kindle books and Tips blog.
I’d been trying for awhile to find the perfect song to link with Elle Casey’s anniversary promotion, and I found it just in the nick of time (Thanks to Janette Rallison’s blog.)
So, what’s the deal with Elle Casey’s anniversary. Well, she generously put together a promotion of indie authors and their books — over seventy books to be exact — to celebrate the publication of her first book one year ago. That’s some seriously good karma. Readers can enter to win in here. Some are paperbacks, most are e-books, and you’ll need to read the fine print if you care about which is which.
I’ve read, or intend to read, a number of these. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but only meant to give you a feel for what’s available over at Elle’s site.
Adriana Ryan — World of Shell and Bone — a dystopia featuring feminism gone wrong. Two words: read it.
Amanda Brice — Codename Dancer — Clever. Dancing with the Stars meets Gallagher Girls
Dalya Moon — Smart Mouth Waitress and Broken Shell Island — Quirky and whimsical, just like the author
Shana Norris — The Boyfriend Thief — a super cute contemporary romance.
Tina Ferraro — The Starter Boyfriend. Her books are fun, and bonus points because this one has a mannequin character, like My Wishful Thinking.
Here’s a couple more to think about. These are authors that I really, really like and I’ve read some of their books, but not the ones in Elle’s promo:
Sibel Hodge — I’ve read adult books by her and she’s got a children’s book It’s A Catastrophe.
ME Purfield — Is darkly funny. A Black Deeper Than Death is the featured book.
Plus there are a lot of other popular authors that I haven’t read their books yet: Dannika Dark, Imogen Rose, Sarra Cannon, Samantha Young, TS Welti.
And, of course, Elle Casey’s books, which aren’t part of the giveaway, but she’s been busy over the past year and you can see her complete list of titles here.
Certainly, I’ve left authors off this list and there’s no ill will or editorializing about it. There’s just no way to mention every single book or author that’s participating in Elle’s ginormous promotion, so here’s the link, again. And now for this silly, but widely viewed video. Apologies if you’ve already see it.
Is everybody feeling in the holiday spirit? I hope so.
I am (feeling in the holiday spirit, that is.), so I’ve decided to give away a sleigh full of books. If you have a Kindle Fire, or Paperwhite, or app feel free to stop by Amazon on the schedule below to pick up your copy.
Seasons and Holidays – is FREE RIGHT NOW through 12/15
Colors – Will be FREE 12/18 – 12/22
Opposites – Will be free 12/16 – 12/17 and again on 12/23, 12/24 and Christmas Day.
Winging It! — Will be FREE 12/14 – 12/17
My Wishful Thinking – Will be FREE 12/20 – 12/23
Hope you enjoy the books and this version of the classic by Michael Bublé. Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Just a quick note to let you know I have a post today over at the group blog YA INDIE. I blogged about how writers can connect with readers on Goodreads. This is my second post over there. The first post dealt with why I like to blog and how to think about topics.
If you’re a writer you don’t need to be YA or INDIE to find useful ideas and tips, so head on over. I’m enjoying this group blog as a new way to connect with other authors, and if you’re a reader not a writer, you might still find some really cool new authors, so you’re invited to the party, too.
I really wanted to hit this milestone of 10,000 books sold in my first year and missed it by about a month. Oh, well.
It’s really small potatoes compared to a lot of authors, but it makes me happy. So…. thank you, readers!!
Before he was Cinna in The Hunger Games, Lenny Kravitz was an incredible rocker. Actually, he’s still an incredible rocker, but some of you may only know him as an actor, and you really owe it to yourselves to get to know his music.
So, why is “Fly Away” this Monday’s song?
Well, because it’s always, always always, been a favorite of mine. And, I’ve always thought it’s the perfect song for Grace from Winging It! She wants her wings for exactly this reason!
Also, I have to fly away today, making this post much shorter than normal. I’m off to finish some work on a newsletter that’s about to go out to the folks on my mailing list. If you haven’t signed up yet click here. I absolutely will not spam you. If I do things right, it’ll be about twice a year that I send an update on upcoming releases.
Even if you don’t want to clickety-click, you should make time to watch this video of ”Fly Away”. The audio is not quite as good as the original, but it’s waaay cooler. Promise.