Category Archives: Feelings

EVEN GREAT AUTHORS GET DECKED


Dave, an acquaintance, shared an article with me that made me giggle. It seems even authors that time and academia have deemed “classic” or “noteworthy” get creamed by critics from time to time. In the universe of literature, no one is exempt from a scathing rebuke.

Feeling glum because someone dissed your work? Read this. You’ll feel better. You may still have to re-write, but you will feel as if you are in good company.

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History

[Editor’s note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we’re revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published June 19, 2011.] Sigh. Authors just don’t insult each other like they used to. Sure, Martin Amis raised some eyebrows when he claimed he would need brain damage to write children’s books, and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan made waves when she disparaged the work that someone had plagiarized, but those kinds of accidental, lukewarm zingers are nothing when compared to the sick burns of yore. It stands to reason, of course, that writers would be able to come up with some of the best insults around, given their natural affinity for a certain turn of phrase and all. And it also makes sense that the people they would choose to unleash their verbal battle-axes upon would be each other, since watching someone doing the same thing you’re doing — only badly — is one of the most frustrating feelings we know. So we forgive our dear authors for their spite. Plus, their insults are just so fun to read. Click through for our countdown of the thirty harshest author-on-author burns in history, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments!

For the complete article, go here:

http://flavorwire.com/188138/the-30-harshest-author-on-author-insults-in-history/view-all

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Give Your Readers a Warning


Author Lauren Carr just helped me solve a dilemma. I’ll explain.

In a story I am working on, there are bigoted characters–as there are bigoted people in real life. There are bad guys–as in real life. And a few of the scoundrels look and behave differently than me.

Nevertheless, as a new novelist, I wondered what the reading public would think about my story, especially if their own family heritage were the same as the despicable characters in my book. When I wrote the story, I never gave the cultural or sexual orientation or race issues a thought. I simply told a story.

Once the story was essentially complete, it dawned me that several of my friends were going to find ugly characters in my story that resembled them in some way. Would they feel differently about me because I cast a negative character with their ethnicity or sexual persuasion?

Apparently mystery writer Lauren Carr had similar concerns because she included the following disclaimer in the press release for her new book:

Best-selling mystery author Lauren Carr takes fans of past Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime mysteries down a different path in her latest whodunit. “Don’t worry,” she says. “We have plenty of dead bodies and lots of mystery-as well as intrigue, suspense, and page turning twists.”

However, Lauren does issue a warning for readers. “The key job of a fiction writer is to look at a situation, make observations about how things are and how they work, and then ask, ‘What if …’  This is what I have done with Three Days to Forever.”
Lauren Carr’s latest mystery plunges Mac Faraday, Archie, David, Gnarly, and the gang head first into a case that brings the war on terror right into Deep Creek Lake. “Current political issues will be raised and discussed by the characters involved,” Lauren says. “It is unrealistic for them to investigate a case involving terrorism without these discussions.”
With this in mind, Lauren reminds her readers that “Three Days to Forever is fiction. It is not the author’s commentary on politics, the media, the military, or Islam. While actual current events have inspired this adventure in mystery and suspense, this fictional work is not meant to point an accusatory finger at anyone in our nation’s government.”
Consequently, I am considering a disclaimer, to make the reader aware that  I acknowledge there may be sensitivity to character portrayals. The disclaimer also reminds the reader that the work is fiction.
Have some thoughts? Please share them. This is a site for learning.
P.S. In the “draft” version of this post, paragraph spacing is correct. In the “published” form, there are spaces missing between paragraphs in the final section. It is a format error on WordPress’ part. I can’t fix it.

The Value of a Support Group? Priceless!


In the words of author Shelton Keys Dunning, “Writing is a solitary action.” Thus, the only advice I get is me talking to myself. Not good. That is one of the reasons I started this blog–to reach out to other authors and share feedback.

I got feedback in spades to my previous post “Fear of Finishing.” The advice is good for every writer facing self-doubt. So, at the risk of pink cheeks on my part, I share the tips and counsel that seasoned author and editor Shelton Keys Dunning gave me.

Before you read Shelton’s words, know this. Writers are like actors–we die without an audience. Writers are also human. We wither without someone to stroke us and fertilize our creative machine once in a while. Hence, the necessity of a support group.

The support group can exist through friends cultivated on-line or in person through a face-to-face writers group or in fellow students in a classroom setting. However or wherever, a support group of fellow penmen is invaluable to an author in turmoil.

Now to the feedback:

Fear is as normal as it is debilitating. I’m concerned that my edit contributed to your self-doubt. Honestly though, I will champion your talent through to the hellfires and back again. This next step is critical yes, heart-wrenching and laced with every type of harbinger of doom possible. It’s how you channel that fear that will make you or break you. I want you to read the following and take it to heart.

1. You have the talent. You have more than most. I would not lie to you about this.
2. Dead with Envy is a story only you can tell. And it is a story worthy of bookshelves. Again, I’m not lying.
3. Editing is the most difficult thing to do as a writer. You get through this, you can do anything. Period.
4. Writing is a very solitary action, it isn’t always clear that you have a support group. But you do have one. And I am your biggest fan. You can lean on me.
5. My mother wants to buy your book. I’m not lying. So you have already touched readers and you’re not even finished yet.
6. Set-backs aren’t permanent. Neither are road blocks. What can be permanent, though, is the wall you build around your heart to shield you from the unknown. Surround yourself instead with supportive voices. AND
BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY SAY THAT YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED.
7. Once your story is published, do not worry about your audience. The phrase: You build it, they will come, applies here. It worked for baseball. It can work for you. Will there be people that don’t like it?
Sure. Just like not everyone likes fried pickles. That’s okay. There will be others who will LOVE it.
8. Fear of the unknown is normal. I’ve been there. I am there. You are not alone.
9. My book: The Trouble with Henry? That took me two years to publish it. Two years passed since writing “Finis” before I felt ready to hit the publish button. I’m still finding flaws, but I am my own worst critic. Just like you are your own worst critic. You don’t have to take two years for Dead With Envy, but you can if you want to. You are in control.
10. Have I told you not to worry yet, that you are talented and beautiful? Have I said that Dead with Envy deserves to be on bookshelves? Just checking.

It’s hard to find your heart when you are mired in self-doubt. Every writer faces this. Every one. Even Stephen King. And if he claims he doesn’t, he’s lying. Think back to the first time you had to send an email to someone, anyone. I don’t know about you, but the first email I
ever sent terrified me witless. What if I did it wrong? What if I didn’t make any sense? What if I got lost in the world like snail mail through the post office and if the email did arrive, it arrived broken and torn and unreadable? There are still days when I face job hunts that I stare at the emails and wonder if I’ve forgotten the entire English language. Or what about blog posts? The first blog post you ever did, how did you feel then? How do you feel now? I promise publishing a book might feel bigger than a blog post, but it’s only ’cause it took more hours to do.

It might help to write all your questions down on paper, and answer them, on paper. If you ask yourself a question and you don’t know the answer, write “I need to research this” for the answer. That way, you’ve  acknowledged that you don’t know, but you can find the answer. Breaking all your fears down into little pieces and tackling one at a time, helps.

And now that I’ve taken up your blog, I will leave you with this: I am here. I’m not going anywhere, heaven forbid, and you couldn’t be safer than among your peers. I promise this too shall pass.

Fear of Finishing


Several caring readers have offered support and encouragement. By reading their comments, I had a realization–I think I may be struggling with a fear of finishing the book.

That fear can come from a number of concerns:

Will readers like my story?

Can I handle the criticism?

What will I do next?

In fairness to myself, there are valid circumstances that prevent me from editing. Those are barriers to work over, around, through. Time will fix the problems.

It’s the absence of “heart” for the work that I worry about. And I think the list above addresses the root of the “heart” problem.

Are you, too, finding it hard to finish a manuscript? Could you be sharing some of my concerns (fears)?

I Haven’t Quit


Just a quick note to say I haven’t quit on Dead with Envy. The editing has gone much more slowly than I knew it would.

Compound that with life and its complications, and my heart hasn’t been in the writing . Enough said.

Last night I heard a beautiful song. I was mesmerized by the haunting vulnerability of the lyrics. Oh, that I could write with that raw power and simplicity, I thought. So I am embedding it below to serve as a prompt to those of you who like music to inspire your words.

Breaking It Into Manageable Steps


My daughter is a sweetheart. She sent me a very helpful article from www.daringtodeliverfully.com. I am feeling overwhelmed and uncertain as I am finalizing the book for publication and starting the marketing process.

The article, called “What a Masked Vigilante Can Teach You about Goal Achievement–The Zorro Circle,”  by Marelisa offers concrete steps to take in the midst of mental chaos to restore order and purposeful action.

The basic idea of “The Zorro Circle” is to set a large goal and then select a small area of that goal to conquer. Once you’ve conquered that small area, you expand the circle. As you conquer each successive “Zorro Circle”, you get closer and closer to achieving your goal. Here are the five basic ideas behind “The Zorro Circle”:

  • Research shows that when we feel that we’re in control of a situation, we’re happier and able to perform at a higher level.

  • When a task is very large, we lose the feeling of control and influence, we feel overwhelmed, our brains are hijacked by fear and stress, and our abilities plummet.

  • You take control of the situation by starting with small, manageable steps.

  • Once you’ve mastered one small area, you expand that mastery outward.

  • Keep expanding outward until you’ve achieved your goal.

This morning I applied the principles of “The Zorro Circle” to work on a marketing blurb for the book to be used at the Creatures, Crime & Creativity Conference this weekend. I am a panelist at the conference, and will be introducing my book.

All of this is new to me, and the novelty (combined with my own inexperience) paralyzed my thought processes. My daughter came to my rescue.

Consequently, I focused on writing the blurb that will go on the promo materials I am handing out at the conference and nothing else. I finished two versions and sent them out to my beta readers for feedback.

Later this morning, I will create and print the advertising pieces. It’s nice to be back on track.

Autobiography: How To Do It


When my daughter was in school, she was friends with a very creative circle of kids. I adopted her friends as my extra children. To this day, I get called “Mom” by some, and it warms my heart.

Today those kids are grown.

One of them sent me an article that offers some excellent writing advice. The author of the article, Bushra Rehman, is on the staff of Poets & Writers and recently published her first novel. I have pulled selected tidbits from her article to teach us more about the craft of autobiographical writing.

For example, when writing autobiographical pieces, Rehman  says:

One of the drawbacks . . .  is that the people in your head are not imaginary. They’re real. They’re the people you love the most and are most afraid of losing.

The consequence of telling someone’s story is something to consider when writing about real people. Don’t let it prevent you from telling your story, but consider what options may be available to protect the privacy and dignity of humans you know.

One way around the obstacle is to fictionalize your story. Change names, locations and the facts enough to allow the source of your inspiration to remain anonymous. Doing so not only protects the person from exposure, it also protects you from legal liability for disclosing that which may be deemed private or libelous by a court of law.

Rehman also talks about the therapeutic benefits of writing autobiographical material:

The truth is you don’t know the shape your work will take until it is written. Yes, you may feel a burning anger in the beginning, but when you write the story, you might be surprised by the gentle and compassionate portrayals you create. The very writing of the narrative will transform you and your memories.

Finally, being closely tied to the people behind your characters may color your portrayals of  the dark elements of a story. Rehman has developed a technique to help her in that circumstance:

You never even have to publish. I trick myself every time by saying I won’t. It’s one way I’ve learned to be honest in my writing–by lying to myself.

I giggled as I read the article my daughter’s friend shared with me. She knows I am writing novels. Do you think she worries about appearing in a book as one of my characters? I will promise her here and now, she won’t. At least not in any form that even she would recognize.

Fair enough?