Tag Archives: manage criticism

Write for Yourself–and Only Yourself


That’s right. I am warning you. Otherwise, you could find yourself washed up with the first book. Or, in the case of Herman Melville, the sixth book.

Writer Lucas Reilly tells the story at mentalfloss.com.

Herman Melville had everything a young author could dream of. By the age of 30, he’d traveled the world and written five books, including two bestsellers. He’d married the daughter of a prominent judge, and he owned a beautiful farmhouse. He hobnobbed with the literati. Strangers asked for autographs.

Then he wrote Moby-Dick and ruined everything.

Today, the book is often hailed as the Great American Novel, an epic D. H. Lawrence called “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world.” But in Melville’s time, it was a total flop. Readers couldn’t comprehend the difficult narrative. Critics dismissed it as the ravings of a madman. When Melville tried to mend his image with a follow-up, titled Pierre, the reviews were equally brutal, and the work cemented his reputation as a lunatic. At just 33, Melville was finished.

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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

Hair Flying Over Hagerstown


This weekend is my time to read the critiques of the Beta readers.  If you hear weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth or if you see hair flying over the rooftops of Hagerstown, you will know that I have become a mad woman as I try to figure out how to get the last re-write done in time for publication this month. A September release may not be possible. Yet, I will give it my best effort.

Good thing I got that head shot taken before I pulled all my hair out. Not to mention the dark circles under my eyes from pulling all-nighters trying to meet deadlines. I don’t bounce back like I used to. It may take me a month to look human again.

I better make sure someone is doing a buddy check on me to make sure I haven’t passed out from dehydration or sleep deprivation. Face flat on the floor, tongue hanging out,  random wisps of mad-scientist hair still clinging to my now-bald pate–isn’t that a scary sight?? Yeah, I’m glad I got that photo taken!

George Johnson and a Baseball Tale


Congratulations, George!

George Johnson is a member of Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe, the writers group to which I belong. He recently released his first novel Acre. I’ve excerpted part of a review from HuntingtonNews.Net. Let’s read it and see what WE can learn to improve our own writing:

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Acre’: A Fable About a Baseball Player Who Seems Too Good to be True

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 – 18:10Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
 BOOK REVIEW: 'Acre': A Fable About a Baseball Player Who Seems Too Good to be True

George Johnson’s “Acre” (Acorn Book Services, trade paperback/available as a Kindle eBook, 288 pages, $15.00, available from Amazon.com, Powell’s books, Barnes and Noble and other online book sources) is about a baseball player who seems too good to be true, playing in a time when $35,000 a year was a good salary.

Growing up in Delaney, Utah in the 1940s and early 1950s, Acre Thomas Tulley knows he’s destined to play major league baseball, specifically for the Kansas City Royals. But since this is a fantasy — it has to be! — It’s an alternate universe Kansas City Royals. I didn’t think the Royals were around in the 1950s, when a $35,000 yearly salary was considered excellent. I turned to the trusty Google and Wikipedia — two wonders that didn’t exist when Acre was practicing hitting in the batting cage his father built for him — and learned that the K.C. Royals were a 1969 expansion team in the American League, along with the Seattle Pilots.

But since this is fiction, just let the words flow and enjoy this tale of a remarkable young man, who, after he joins the team on a year-to-year basis, decides he’s going to play for ten years, then marry Willa, his sweetheart, and attend Utah University. Does Acre Tulley keep to his plan, despite the Gold Gloves, the All-Star Game appearances as a second baseman, the adulation, and the money? Management at the Royals wishes Tulley would play forever: He’s a seat filler and fan favorite and a .400-plus hitter.

I’m not going to give away the plot points, other than to say to know Acre is to love him. He devotes time to visit terminally ill young people in hospitals, including an admirer named Homer Dweed (get used to weird names, the book is full of them!), a cancer patient at Children’s Hospital. Acre Tulley is paying for Homer’s treatment in an arrangement that Homer’s single mom doesn’t know about. Did I say he’s too good to be true! The scenes where Acre and Willa visit Homer are guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes.

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll love this book, especially as the All-Star Game nears. If you’re not, you’re in luck because Johnson provides a glossary of terms. . .

Acre. . . may remind you of Bernard Malamud’s 1952 baseball novel (and the excellent Barry Levinson film version) “The Natural.”

About the Author
George Johnson is a retired elementary school teacher from Prince George’s County, Maryland. He thought about “Acre” for two years before he finally put it in writing. Then it took him three years, off and on, to complete it and put it in print. Being a late starter, George completed his second book of fiction called Timber. Acre and Timber are brother and sister. Timber took him two years to complete. At the present time he is putting together a collection of short stories he has compiled over the years. George lives in Hagerstown, Maryland with Sharon, his wife of fifty-four years.

Notice the criticisms:

First, the reviewer says George’s character Acre is too good to be true. I was privy to criticism George received from Acorn Book Services before the book was published.  The publisher made the same observation. The author chose to keep Acre as he is. That is the writer’s prerogative. That choice did not escape notice by the reviewer.

Second, the reviewer catches factual errors in George’s novel. The baseball team George writes about did not exist in the year George sets his story. Oopsie! The lesson for authors–check your facts. Do your research. Or get caught, as George did, with your pants down.

These lessons aside, the reviewer liked the characters and the story. That’s a tremendous achievement for an author’s first novel. George deserves a pat on the back. May I be as fortunate when my first novel hits the critic’s desk.

MATCH YOUR COVER TO THE CONTENT


Recently I met an author who shared with me an interesting story about yet another author. There is a lesson in the tale for those of you about to publish.

An author wrote an adult book that started off with two chapters that sounded more like a youth book. You know, the part Amazon.com let’s you read before you buy? A parent reading the preview could wrongfully assume the book was safe to purchase for a child. The cover art also suggested the story would be suitable for the Youth/ Adolescent market.

However, once a reader read past the first two chapters, the book had language and sexual depictions that were not suitable for kids.

The book was purchased by a parent for a child. Once the child read the adult material, and brought it to the parent’s attention, the author received protest on misleading the buying public.  Poor reviews on the book followed. True Story.

The trouble could have been avoided if the author had designed a cover that made it plain that adult material was part of the book. The cover art should have looked “adult” versus “youth-oriented.”

Sometimes an author has an image in mind for the cover. The rendering artist, knowing the content of the book, may suggest revisions, but the author (or publisher) is adamant about the original image. The author-selected image may be all wrong for what is inside the book. And the image may, indeed, mislead the reading public.

When your cover artist makes suggestions about changes to your cover art, please listen. You may spare yourself–and your title–criticism.

She’s a Winner in My Book


When I saw this, I thought to myself, “This girl has the heart of a writer.”

Instead of doing nothing–or retaliating in kind–she chooses to use words and reason and the public forum to champion her cause. As any writer would do, she looks at the bigger picture framing the conflict. She thinks how the situation impacts others globally and why the problem she confronts is larger than just her own personal problem.

Then she acts. As a writer. She puts her thoughts into words for the purpose of creating change–in one human heart or in the world. She wishes for the larger change, but will be content with the smaller one. The goal is change.

Watch this young woman’s videographic solution to her own problem, and see if you don’t agree with me.