Bad Reviews- In My View They Ain’t So Bad! #MFRW

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So it’s Monday and like clockwork I woke up at 7.00a.m after snoozing the alarm a few times, with a list as long as my arm, with things I want to complete today, in order to have a productive writing day. For one we’re one week into National Novel Writing Month, I’m participating this year, while I have 20,000 words down I’m still not quite happy with all of it, I have emails to respond to, one half of a story for The Suspenseful Collection #2 to write…. before tomorrow!  And let’s not forget the ‘day job writing’ also… I’m a translator by day!

Waking up to this list,  I knew today would be busy, right on cue my five year old son moseys into my room, jumps under the covers…”mama, I’m sick.” I sigh, roll my eyes, peel his warm five year old body off me and look him in the eye, then ask what’s wrong? He  holds his legs in the air like a tent under the covers. When he was born he had complications with his legs, now it’s fine but  I take his complaints seriously. I roll over thinking ” no school looks like today’s a sick day then, some much for productivity.”

It’s lunch time, what is he doing as I write this writing response?  Dancing and singing (rather loudly) to the Lion King movie, before that it was Frozen the movie. What else has he done today, given me firm instructions to leave my desk, to play kick the ball in the garden , attacked the washing line then ran around the house with my bra on his head, pretending he’s a “pirate of the Caribbean.” Clearly, there is nothing wrong with the little shit, boy… whoops sorry. He just fancies a day off to watch Disney all day, and disrupt his mama!

So I may as well do a writing prompt as it’s clear I won’t get to focus on any manuscripts until this evening after bed time…. sighs #shoutoutallparents.

 Bad Reviews, How They Can Help?

So bad reviews? The question  and writing prompt this week is how to overcome them. In all honesty, I don’t think bad reviews are really that bad as you grow as a writer. You soon learn that you can’t, should not try to, and DO NOT EVER want to try to write to please everyone, it’s impossible. If you do that, you’ll lose who you are as a writer,why YOU WRITE and you’ll have no idea of who you actually please- your target market and actually create sales, and a readership.

I also say this as I personally feel as a writer you get to a point where a bad review, you realise does so much more than make you feel bad if you have done the best you can on your work. 1. a review is a review whether good or bad, and sometimes the odd 1 star or someone not feelin’ your work shows a genuine picture or balanced picture. 2. a bad review can cause other people to pick up your book, out of curiosity anyway. How many times have you read reviews on somethings you wish to purchase, or a new product you wish to try and noticed the odd bad one or less positive review but decided ‘I think I want to give this a try, and see for myself.’ 3. it can also allow you to see what someone did not enjoy, genuinely as  long as they are not just on a bitchfest for no good reason.

So… how could you overcome a bad review?

I feel there  is the difference between a ‘moaning’ review and a genuine less positive review that’s more like ‘ this is critique that’s useful.’ I also feel it’s our job as a writer to weed out the two. If you can do this, that’s half the job of ‘overcoming’ a bad review. If the person is just going on, and on, and on, and on about why they hated your work with no real depth to it just…. just “hatin”’ on your work, disregard it and see that they are ‘moaning’. Instead pay attention to those who seem to be more realistic in their less positive review, and see what’s of use for you to know. Even then, take what’s helpful and leave the rest and focus on writing the next book.

Lastly, try  recognise if you have just sadly attracted the ‘wrong reader’ I hate to say this, sometimes it happens. It has happened to me, and I have also been the wrong type of reader for other books. This is when the book calls you,  the cover, blurb, genre whatever…you dive in and the connection is not there. If you can recognise within less positive reviews if this is ‘the wrong kind of reader, not someone you’d hope to attract or genuinely  a target reader’ for your work, this helps you to overcome bad reviews also. It is also helpful to define for  yourself as a writer who is, potentially could be, and definitely is not a target reader for you. Within the less positive reviews.

This is my honest approach to this subject that so many of us writers lose sleep over… a bad review pifff… I don’t allow it to bug me out so much these days. I take what I need and leave the rest, and know that it’s impossible to please all, and I would not ever want to, how the hell do I stand out if I do that?

Take what’s helpful, leave the rest. Just like when your work is rejected by a publisher, or an agent or an editor requests your work …but asks you to make what you would call major changes….that you’re not really feeling. Leave it if it does not help or changes your work too much in your view in a way you’d not really want it to. There will be someone out there that will say ‘yes, gimmie that’ as it is, you just have to find them.

Lastly, don’t ever lose your confidence over a bad review, once you develop that thick skin, this is impossible to happen anyway. But on the way to getting to this place of thick skinned and unflappable, don’t beat yourself up if someone did not connect, as remember you write for those that do connect.

 

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Prologues: Love Or Hate?…It’s A Game Changer! #MFRW

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Interesting writing prompt for this week’s blog challenge, a really relevant one for me. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly become a better writer than I already am,  (just kiddin’ 🙂 ),  I discovered the beauty of a prologue (not kiddin’ about that), and highly recommend using them to writers who have not tried it. (Not kiddin’ about that either).

Seriously, though… prologues?… no. Up until recently, I never used one in any of  my works, not in the true sense of one. Then I did in my last novel I finished this month, from the experience I realised  it’s a game changer for the story, reader and me as a writer…. yes, it improved all three elements of the latter.

When I  published the first book I ever completed, the  publisher at the time really encouraged prologues in books, but what I have learned since then is that how they encouraged their use, was not really a prologue in its true form. It was more like a copy and paste of an existing part of the book, to ‘grab the reader’ , I was told at the time. So I went with it, it really made no difference to me,  the story I don’t think or even the reader. As they re-read the same thing  later in the book. From research, from what I understand and correct me if I’m wrong, a prologue is an introduction or scene setting and not something that appears again later down the line.

In my most recent works Sacrifices a romantic suspense, with a hint of history to it, once it went through a round of editing, my editor pointed out ‘Kim, this really needs something here.’ I walked away like ‘hmm, okay so I need to add a new scene to ‘introduce’ the story.’ This is largely as, if you have seen the film Pulp Fiction, I have ‘stolen’   ‘been inspired’ the talented movie director Quentin Tarantino’s, excellent story telling technique. I  start my story twenty-five years ago, but not twenty-five years ago from the present day…from the 1960s! Which makes the opening scene the mid- late 1980s…then tell the story ‘back to front’ if you like, to end up in the present day, while moving through different points and key events from 1960s- 1980s in different countries,  and then the present day!

 

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I know I’m nuts, right!? Imagine how much fact checking and challenge it was, to give birth to a story like that. Thankfully, and very proudly it works, it came together finally. So anyway, once I got that feedback I reflected, then decided  I do need a prologue in the present day, before we head back and move forward. I really researched into what the general feel is on prologues, and the use of them as I never worked with one, or used one before properly. I’ve simply never needed to.  A lot of what I read, stated that ‘you should be able to tell the story without a prologue or a epilogue.’ I reflected, I saw this point of view and understood it, as that’s how felt before, I wrote Sacrifices.  

I also read a lot of articles that advised romance writers to ‘stay away from them’! One very popular romance author wrote a very interesting article advocating using one, also stating that in her experience ‘readers loved them’, especially epilogues. Yes…I used an epilogue also, but this was already there due to the nature of the story, and ending.

So in all honesty, I believe that as a writer, experimenting with a prologue has actually made me a bit of a stronger writer. It feel it has also added an extra layer of ‘wow, that’s a cool story, and not a rehash of current romance themes’ to my current work. I also feel that readers will be able to keep up with the pace, and connect with the story, due to the technique I used to write it with the addition of the prologue.

Now, I’m a strong supporter from this experience, and I’ve learned what a true prologue is, not a copy and past to ‘grab someone’. It’s a whole new scene, setting, part of the story or peel of the onion to unwrap, to draw a reader in. It’s also very very helpful when writing from a historical perspective, where you are not always in the present day.

Yeah…I think I’ve convinced myself that I am a prologue lover, as well as a epilogue lover and I would do it all over again, if the story called for it with no hesitation. I’m always one to happily break rules to…so as a romance writer, I won’t ‘stay away’ from them as generally in the genre it’s not something that is used often or supported, so they say. I’ll do what the story is calling me to, and allow myself to become better and write stronger stories by not being bound to rules! So in response to this week’s writing prompt for romance writers ‘ prologues helpful, or hurtful?‘…. Helpful 100%.  I recommend you all do too, look at your last or current works, regardless of what you write or your genre. Do you need a prologue, what about an epilogue? It might just help, and change the game.

Rambles and Randoms #MFRWauthor #amwriting

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A few years ago I joined in on the fifty two week blogging challenge for romance authors, using the prompts from this great organisation. I’m jumping in for 2019 at week eleven, and go back and answer a few of  what missed…. in other words take a break from proof reading.

Question: Do you hold, share or hide an odd hidden talent?

I love astrology, I just can’t get enough of  how the study of the planet movement can impact on life. I studied it, got a diploma in astrology and yep every month I do look at the what the plants are doing.  Sometimes  I plan things I want to do based on what star sign the new or full Moon is in, or where my ruling planet for my star sign is in the universe.  Yep, I know my birth chart off the top of my head, and do compare it to the day that certain astrological major events are happening, like a planet moving signs or whatever event is taking place like an eclipse for example. Just to see how it may impact me, or what ‘house of life’ the planet transit is happening in. Is that weird? Probably.

Question: The difference between collecting and hording?

I found this such an interesting prompt, as I really had to think and question myself.  My paranoia set in big time!

Kim’s brain ticking, and eyes narrow: To collect, means you collect things that are valuable, rare or something useful.  Hording is when you’re afraid to let go of something you’ve collected, no matter how broken or unusable it is. Hmmm yeah,  when my shoes are old and battered…. I chuck them out, and buy a new pair to add to the ‘collection’. Same with all the beauty products.  Hmm yeah yeah.  If kept hold of the old shoes, finished glosses or lippies…. then I’d be hording right?… right.  *Nods head slowly while pouting* …. yeah, that sounds about right you’re collector girl, don’t panic.

Question: stress eating, whys and wherefores?

You know, I don’t and never have done this. I  get that some do, but when I am feeling stressed I turn the other way from food. I tend to not eat, if there’s very stressful things happening, not like everyday stresses or challenges but real life stress. I can’t answer this one from the why or wherefores.

 Question: Point of view choices and preferences?

Now, this is going to sound very strange from a romance author, but I proudly break every rule in the ‘romance writing’ cookbook of ‘how it should be done.’ In fact, I recommend to any new writer to stay away from those books, as they mass produce the same old. I stray whenever I feel like it, if the story calls me to.  I write first person, present tense and I don’t give a hoot who thinks what. And that is probably why I stand out, I’m not the only romance writer that does it I know, but those of us that do we’re the rebels and the bad asses to go against what’s considered the norm and ‘way to write romance’. And we are the ones probably turned away from agents and publishers  the most, because we are rebels.  But I’ll be honest… I chucked that cookbook right out, along with the cookbook that says every male lead is ‘tall, dark and handsome’ and every female lead is ‘ waiting to be saved’. * Smirks* nooo, no no, I like my women like I like my coffee strong! For the most part anyway, same with the men.

The romance genre is very full of third person past tense, which is nice and okay, and yes I can write like that if I feel like it or feel the story needs it, but that’s not what got me my first publishing deal, that’s not what made me an award winning author, and it’s not what landed an agent’s interest in my the novel I wrote to submit this year.  So I keep it real, and I keep it how I like it and where my true gift shines.

I’ll let you into a secret too those very same chapters I submitted to two agents, one came back and said to me ‘ I need to follow the rules’ and asked me if I’d consider doing a rewrite she did want my work, I kid you not, I actually laughed told her ‘no thanks.’ The other one she requested the full manuscript, in order to know where I stood with them I checked if the tense is okay , they said ‘yeah it works keep there.’ From this I feel be creative don’t feel bound to rules.

Personally I feel that POV’s should be written from the angle the story calls for it to be written from, if it’s an intense thrilling story there is nothing like bringing the reader up close.  My honest POV, on writing POV in the romance genre and generally is, be brave because there are readers of this genre (which includes me), who are sick and tired of the same old same old, same plots done over, same feel of the story the same predictability.

On the other hand I could feel like this and write how I write, as I write things like general thriller and crime, so I guess that’s where I get the rebel streak in me from. But, in a nutshell there are ‘rules’ and then there’s talent and creativity which will allow you to tell the story,  and find your own style and not have to follow ‘rules.’ Don’t be afraid to use it and stand out, there is nothing wrong with that.  This is by no means a knock to any writer who sticks to the rules either, it’s just an honest response to this prompt.

Question: reading, writing or living?

All three, damn I can’t do one without the other two. I can’t write without the urge to read, reading is what brought me to writing, not the other way around. I ran a book club for years ,and read two books or more a month before I even even wrote ‘Chapter One’ and wrote a story. But I always had a love of writing, I needed a push I got it and never stopped.  I need to live to read and write, and and live for reading and writing, so I need all three in my life!

Right! Okay, back to the proof reading before bed, I am going  over the stories from The Suspenseful Collection Volume Two. I can’t believe how going back over work I did with Didi from 2017, has made me smile so much, mainly as the challenge was and still will be to write the story over a weekend LOL. It’s such a great challenge every week, I need to thank you again if you voted in the writing prompts we used for the stories we have so far for this volume.

Right now, we’re writing the bonus stories ( that will only appear in the actual published book only), and extending the ones you all voted for to be extended  in the actual volume. This trip down memory lane is pretty cool. Thank you guys!

I hope once I speak with Didi again next week, we’ll have a plan on how we go about the challenge in 2019, and voting. I have never been more challenged by this kind of writing prompt challenge I LOVE IT. Thing is I  have no say on how the story ends ( unless I’m author two), but the challenge of being author two is I need to just roll with what Didi puts on my plate, and lap it up I can’t change it as  we don’t talk about the story it’s against the rules!

On the other hand being author one, is also just as challenging as you need to  break the ice and give the reader something interesting quick as it’s a short story, and the other writer something good enough to work with, and hope they don’t hate it! I could go on, but seriously it’s brought a much needed smile back  to my face, after personal withdrawal to deal with life it’s great to be back doing what I love.

Catch y’all soon.