March 1st, 2017

Top 5 Things Rodeo Taught me About Writing

Kari Lynn Dell

Yes, that’s Kari!

If you’d asked me twenty years ago, the idea that a ranch girl from Montana who majored in sports medicine could up and write a book would’ve seemed ludicrous. Then this story got stuck in my head. The characters—typical of many of the cowboys I’ve dated—settled in on my mental couch, hogging the remote and forever drinking the last can of cold Pepsi in the fridge. They brought along their horses, dogs, and in one case a goat, and the only way to evict them was to write them out.

Now that I’ve been involved in this crazy business for a while, I’m convinced that a lifetime of rodeo competition is actually the best possible preparation. And here’s why:

1. Even if you put in the time and effort, there’s no guarantee you’ll end up with a winner.

Training a rodeo horse is a two or three-year process, minimum. Some, like certain of my book ideas, are stinkers from the get go. Some start off great, but unravel halfway through. Sometimes you’re sure this is the ONE, only to have them fall just short in competition, the equine equivalent of a rejection letter that says, “Sorry, this book was good, but not great.”

So you train harder, try different techniques, go to a clinic in hopes of an Aha! moment that will transform average to exceptional. Or you rewrite, go to workshops, get your manuscript critiqued. And then you resubmit, or enter more rodeos, and see if you’ve found the magic key. Occasionally, as with the fourth rewrite of Reckless in Texas, the answer is yes.

2. The hardest part is knowing when to give up.

I wasted years on a barrel racing horse named Roo, who would show a flash of brilliance just often enough to keep me hanging on, sure we were almost there. We never arrived. On the other hand there was Scotty, who bucked me off three times in one week and was so cantankerous the first year we competed that merely surviving every rodeo was an accomplishment. I battled on, and when she finally got it all together, she became a champion—and so did I.

But how do you know which horses (and books) are a Scotty, and which are a Roo? And when to admit defeat and move on? For me…when I’m stumped and so are my little group of readers. We all know what we don’t like about the book but we’ve run out of ideas about how to fix it.

This is when it’s time to put that horse out to pasture. Amazingly enough, sometimes with horses (and manuscripts) just leaving them alone and letting them age for a while is all you need. When you stop pushing so hard and move on to another idea, your subconscious can run free, and if you’re very lucky, it may one day serve up the solution to your book problem.

Or not. Some books never come around. The characters or the plot have a bone deep, fatal flaw and it’s better to just leave them in the bottom drawer. But don’t consider it a loss. You learned things from that book, even if it was what not to do. And you may, like me, find yourself scavenging bits and pieces from it for later books—an image, a description, a secondary character, sometimes an entire scene. Don’t think of it as a loss. Just repurposing, like Roo, who turned out to be an awesome team roping horse instead.

3. First practices (and drafts) stink.

The other day we roped steers for the first time in over a month. We were rusty. The steers were fresh and wild. My horse had apparently forgotten everything he’s ever known. We trudged back to the barn exhausted, battered and disheartened. In other words, it was a typical first practice. The next night we returned to the arena and voila! We roped as if we’d never had a break. But we had to muddle through that ugly first practice to work out the kinks.

First drafts are also clunky and uncoordinated, and at several points along the way I’ll be convinced I’ve forgotten how to write. Still, I grit my teeth and stagger through to the end, knowing there are better days to come. I have to remind myself that for me, a first draft is mostly—other than a few scenes that leap onto the page fully formed—a pencil sketch. All of the pretty color, subtle nuances and best humor will be layered in during the second draft. Or third. Occasionally, much to my editor’s delight, even during final line edits.

So it also goes with roping. First practices are about not falling off the horse or roping yourself instead of the calf. But with each subsequent trip to the arena we begin to hone in on the finer points, like adjusting the set of my shoulders and the turn of my wrist to make my loops snappier with no wasted motion. Just like my dialogue.

4. The only thing I can control is my effort.

I practiced hard all of last May. My horse and I were ready. On the first weekend of June we drove a hundred miles to the annual Whoop-Up Days rodeo. I warmed up, stretched, went through my mental pre-game routine. Breathe. Visualize. Be in the moment. And then I backed in the roping box, nodded my head—and the calf ducked hard left, out of reach, before I could throw my rope. No chance. Just luck of the draw.

So it goes in publishing. I can’t control the whims of the reading public (sorry, no zombie cowboys this year), or whether that editor who was waiting breathlessly for my next book left New York to raise alpacas in Alaska. What I can do is write the best stories I know how and keep telling myself that every word, like every rodeo, increases the odds that the luck of the draw will turn in my favor. My job is to have a perfect loop ready to throw when it does.

5. No matter how good you get, on any given day there will be someone you can’t beat.

Let’s be honest. There are people who are exceptionally gifted—physically, mentally, creatively. And if that person also dedicates themselves to working hard and maximizing their talent, they will be better than you. Such has always been the case in my roping career. I’ve lived and competed in Montana, the Dakotas and the Pacific Northwest and in every region there was at least one woman I could not consistently beat. On my very best day, she could still out-rope me.

Harder to accept was the person who wasn’t as talented and never seemed to have a clue what she was doing, but who always seemed to get lucky at the right time. We all knew she wasn’t that good but somehow, when the biggest money was on the line, she would toss out a prayer of a loop and come out on top. It made the rest of us froth at the mouth.

You will see both of these scenarios in your publishing career. A writer whose prose is universally panned will hit the jackpot with a book that leaves you shaking your head and muttering, usually over an alcoholic beverage. Conversely, you’ll pick up a book and it will be so freaking brilliant it will make you want to toss your laptop out the window in despair, knowing that everything you’ve ever written and will ever write pales in comparison.

Measuring yourself against other writers is the road to crazy town, because—newsflash—life is not fair. The most deserving will not always be rewarded. What you can do, though, is pick those other writers apart, the way I study videos of the best ropers in action. Analyze their technique and see what they’re doing better than you, then up your game in that area if it suits your style. I will never be six feet tall with exceptional upper body strength. Patterning myself after a roper who is will likely make me worse, not better. By the same token, my gift as a writer is in the authenticity of my characters and settings and in my humor, not paragraphs of breathtaking, poetic description.

But I can still learn something from the way that Amazon roper positions her horse for the best throw, and I can weave touches of brilliant color into my descriptions to make it more vivid. In other words, I can do the same thing you should with this post and all others on craft. Take what suits your style and makes you better and leave the rest.

And as long as the desire drives you, keep on swinging. As they say in my world—you can’t win a rodeo you didn’t enter.

What do you think, WITS readers? What has another passion of yours taught you about writing?

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About Kari Lynn Dell:

Kari Lynn Dell is a native of north central Montana, a third generation ranch-raised cowgirl, horse trainer and rodeo competitor, most recently the 2013 Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association Breakaway Roping Champion. She attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She currently resides on the family ranch on the Blackfeet Reservation, loitering in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, son and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on the front step, a view of Glacier National Park from her writing desk and Canada within spitting distance.Kari Lynn Dell is a native of north central Montana, a third generation ranch-raised cowgirl, horse trainer and rodeo competitor, most recently the 2013 Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association Breakaway Roping Champion. She attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She currently resides on the family ranch on the Blackfeet Reservation, loitering in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, son and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on the front step, a view of Glacier National Park from her writing desk and Canada within spitting distance.
Her latest book, Tangled in Texas, was an Amazon Top Five of the Month pick and hit the Neilsen BookScan top forty list. You can find more information on Kari and all of her releases at KariLynnDell.com.

February 27th, 2017

7 Ways to Get Rich From Writing

Kathryn Craft
Turning Whine Into Gold 

It’s true: after years of growing to trust the blogging team here at WITS, someone is finally going to spill the bean-counter’s beans. Read on, because there’s more to getting rich than this sure-fire technique:

Write major selling points in their own paragraphs—in red!

Among the top ten reasons people seek publication for their work is the possibility of making some real money at this gig. After all, you have worked so hard. (And so have so many others, but it is not expedient to think about them just now.) Your friends think you can do it. (They also thought you could be a cowboy or a firefighter, two other high-income occupations, but it’s not expedient to think about that just now, either.) The riches will go to someone, so why not you?

Waiting for your bestseller royalty check to auto-deposit. This is the American Dream.

Or is it? If we’re being realistic, a “financial score” in today’s publishing world pales in comparison to pre-2008 values. Hey, I wish it were different. But the market has spoken, and when the budget is tight, most people value a double-shot soy mocha latte over a book purchase.

When such economic realities get you down, turn to these standards of wealth that the bean counters forget to measure. I want you to rest assured:

You’ve already been getting richer from your writing.

Let us count the ways:

  1. You’ll meet people who excite you.

This isn’t the first consideration for many introverted writers, but it is one of my favorites. My writing friends think about life deeply, they feel deeply. They are my kin—and yet each of us notices different aspects of the human condition and filters it through different predispositions. Color me jazzed.

  1. You will go to new (tax deductible) places

I feel certain Dr. Suess was speaking of writers when he titled his children’s book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! There are any number of exotic places I may not have visited if it weren’t for my writing. Lest you think Maui and Hudson, Ohio are not equally exotic, I beg to differ. A curious mind will find fascinating, quaint, rich detail wherever it goes.

  1. You will enrich your thought life

Reading, films, concerts, lectures, theater, museums—these are all ways to escape the keyboard, to learn and refresh. Yet once my mind is deep into a new project, the culture with which I interact makes a personal and necessary contribution. As the scrawled notes on my collection of church bulletins and programs would attest, these experiences become a way to enrich and stimulate the creative mind.

  1. You will enhance family relationships

Tme spent alone can improve relationships by forcing you to set boundaries. Writing time is you time—and especially for married women with children, this is an important precedent to set. Your writing puts needed reserves into your patience account, and much-needed interest into your personality account that you can withdraw to engage loved ones who may have previously assumed that you fold laundry and clean all day. I’ll never forget those years, drafting my practice novel, when my teen would come home from the bus stop, perch on one of the deep windowsills in my office, and ask, “So Mom, what is happening with Autumn today?”

  1. You will stimulate your mood

In her book Wired for Story, Lisa Cron says scientists have shown our brains light up as if the events in our novels are happening to us. Frugality alert: this is cheaper than a cocaine habit, and ends better. Plus, in our fraught political climate, any investment that adds to our emotional assets is a bonus.

  1. You will gain wise inner advisors

Most storytellers write to discover what we do not yet know, and we do that through our characters. Mine live within me beyond the end of the novel. More than once I’ve thought, “What would Marty Kandelbaum do in this situation?” On one hand these are friends of convenience—they were born of thoughts and needs and quandaries specific to a certain time in your life—but they also taught you lessons that you will never forget.

  1. You will improve your citizenship

If a writing life is the American Dream, how does it benefit us as Americans? We writers are the Good Samaritans or problem solving. When we hear of others who are butting up against conundrums that stop them in their tracks, we writers say, “Cool!”—then steal their shoes and walk around in them until we’ve replotted the story and shared a lesson in doing so.

By these seven measures, your life is already so much richer because of writing. So here’s my advice:

To get even richer, go do more of that.

Please share in the comments: Besides money (because bragging will just make the rest of us feel bad), how has writing made you rich?

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About Kathryn

Kathryn CraftKathryn Craft  is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, and a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” was included in the writing guide Author in Progress, from Writers Digest Books. Janice Gable Bashman’s interview with her, “How Structure Supports Meaning,” originally published in the 2017 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, has been reprinted in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, both from Writer’s Digest Books.

February 24th, 2017

Should You Start a Video Blog?

I’ve read so much about how video blogs are the next big thing. I swore I’d never do that. I mean, come on. I’m old, I’m fluffy, I don’t think well on my feet, don’t know anything about the tech involved, and I say ‘anyway’ all the time.  Oh, and I’d have to do my hair and makeup. Other than that, sign me up!

But then a few things happened. I read that in January 2016 Facebook announced there are more than eight billion video views and more than 100 million hours of video watched on the platform daily. 

That’s an amazing stat, but it doesn’t negate even one of my arguments above.

Then I ran across this video: 

Oh my God. I’ll bet I’ve watched that 9 times by now, and she has almost a million hits on it (more, after today, I’ll warrant). Do I judge her for being goofy? Hell no. She’s badass. 

Dammit, this woman just negated all my arguments. 

I eased into this the same way I convinced myself to write my first book – I’d write the book, get it out of my system, then hit delete!  NO one would ever have to see it. Boom.

Well, knowing how that turned out last time, I should have known this strategy wouldn’t work. But I told you I’m a slow learner, right? 

Anyway, I thought if I could be entertaining (always tough, given people’s varying tastes), and offer people something they could use, maybe this could work. Maybe I’d get my name in front of people. Maybe I could even sell a couple of books.  

Maybe being the key word.

I Googled how to do this, and there are a ton of articles out there.

I decided on a few key things:

  • I’d do a craft/writer’s life vlog – I teach workshops and classes – I have something to say!
  • I’m cheap. I’m not buying special equipment. But I own an ipad, and it takes great photos…
  • It has to be entertaining – I’m a bit of a dork, and I live somewhere that, though I think it’s awesome, my friends think I’m crazy for moving from Southern California to Midland, Texas (think flat-ugly-oilwell-arewethereyet kind of country). I could show the awesome and odd about where I live!
  • They can’t be too long – people are too busy for a lecture. The first one, since I had a lot to cover about the set-up, was seven minutes. I’m trying to keep the subsequent ones about four minutes each.
  • I’d have to get over myself. If they’re looking for fashion advice, or runway models, they wouldn’t be clicking on my vlog anyway, right?

I wanted interaction – to be sure I was answering questions that people actually had, I went out on Facebook and asked. Boy did I get questions! Everything from, grammar, how I like my coffee, plotting, how to do descriptions, to wanting to see what I wear in the morning to sit down and write.

Nowadays, if you own an iphone, or an ipad, recording a video is pretty easy. Still, I made mistakes. Here’s a few tips, so you don’t:

  • Exposure. In bright light or shadows, it may not get it right. Tap on the shadowy part to brighten it, tap on the bright part to darken. Who knew?
  • Focus. The regular setting is good – it usually focuses on faces (you can tell, because there’s a yellow box around the focus point). If you want it to focus on something else, tap it until you see the yellow box. But be aware, this will also change the exposure.
  • Shoot in Horizontal mode – now they tell me. You’ll notice in mine, below I didn’t do that. And it screwed up the sign I wanted to show. It showed when I was recording, but the black bars covered it in the recorded version.
  • Trim. Start before you think you need to, and stop after. You can edit it with a simple free software (I used MovieMaker, but there are a bunch out there)
  • A video is too large (usually) to email. Enter the amazing Apple. They’ll do a video drop to an email. But usually, it’s easiest to just upload it to Youtube (or FB) directly from your ipad. Boom.

So, I went for it. Here’s my first posting – technical difficulties, silliness, bystanders and all. I then did two more (you can sign up to get email notification of new installments, either on my website, or on Youtube. 

AND, I just talked to Alpha Dog’s Uncle Bob. He owns 3 longhorns! So expect to see one from a pasture soon. I just hope he wasn’t pulling a Yankee’s leg when he told me they’re docile!

Is this going to work, long term?  Not a clue. Am I having fun with it, so far? Oh hell yes!

So, what do you think?  Would you ever try vlogging? Or are you in camp OhHellNO?

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About Laura

Author Headshot SmallLaura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central.  The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America®   RITA® award in the Best First Book category.

Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin’s Superomance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town.

In January, Laura released her first Women’s Fiction, Days Made of Glass.

In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

Twitter  Facebook

 

February 22nd, 2017

Writing Success: There Are No Shortcuts

Jamie Raintree

When I first started writing, I wanted to know all the answers. I consumed craft books, writing blogs, and the suggestions of writers further ahead in the publishing journey than I. I thought being a successful writer was just a matter of getting the right information. I thought if I could just learn everything there was to know, writing and a career in publishing would suddenly become easy.

You’re laughing now, aren’t you? But it was an obsession, and you know what? It actually kind of worked. I made great progress in my writing and career relatively quickly, but it certainly wasn’t easy, and it was never as fast as I wanted it to be.

Over time, with all that knowledge I gained, I’ve been grateful to pass on my experiences through my blogs, workshops, and mentoring writers in my various writers groups. I often get questions from those who are in the phase I once was in–writers looking for THE ANSWER to eliminating the discomfort of…well, growth. Many of the questions I received have taken different forms, but the underlying sentiment has been this: how do I get through this frustrating phase as quickly and painfully as possible?

It’s true that the writing life is full of times that feel hopeless and seem to drag on forever. One particular time for me was right after I signed with my agent three years ago. Up until then, I had it in my head that once I got an agent, life would be smooth sailing from there. No doubt I would land a book contract in no time and all the pieces of my dream would fall into place from there. (You’re laughing again. I hear you.)

Instead, what happened was that I went into revisions with my agent. I was anxious to go on submission but even though I’d learned so much about writing already, it quickly became clear that I had so much more to learn. My agent taught me the importance of digging deeper into my characters’ motivation, pacing, and organizing my scenes to create maximum impact. It was a time of great growth but also a time of great doubt. For as much as we tore the manuscript apart, I became sure I never knew anything about writing, and how did I get an agent anyway? That was a heartbreaking question I would have given anything to not have to face every day for a year–yes, an entire year of the revisions, and don’t get me started about the year of being on submission.

As much growing as I did in my craft during this time, it was really the growing I did as a person that changed me and prepared me to humbly transition into the title of published author. It was probably the growth I needed to experience the most. Did all the advice I’d received leading up to and during this period help me? Absolutely. Did it point me in the right direction and save me from some wheel spinning and silly mistakes? Without a doubt.

But the more I experience of life, the more I come to understand that there’s only so much one can learn secondhand. As much as our parents would love to pass on their 50, 60, 70-year plus experience and save us the trouble of figuring it out on our own, every generation starts fresh with their own challenges. As much as we wish the writers who have come before us could hand us the secret handbook, we are all on our own unique journeys, learning our own personal lessons, on our own specific time.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…

There are no shortcuts.

And as much as it sucks, it’s probably a good thing. One thing that we tend to undercut is the necessity of building our metaphorical muscles that prepare us for each new stage of the writing journey. Whether it be learning the writing craft rules so we know how to break them, or thickening our skin with those initial critiques so we can handle editorial notes and reader reviews later, every uncomfortable period we grow through is teaching us how to handle the next phase. If we were to skip past any of these phases, we wouldn’t have the mental or emotional fortitude to cope with the challenges that arise.

It’s the same with the writing itself. Trying to understand the concepts of story pacing before we’ve even written our first drafts is likely to lead to more frustration than simply working through it, one phase at a time. Even now, as I’m writing and editing the second book in my contract, it’s a whole new phase. I’ve never written a book that has to “live up to” another piece of my work, which comes with all new challenges. If you’re moving forward in your writing career, the new phases never stop coming so rather than trying to skip past them, our time and energy would be better spent learning how to move through them with grace and patience.

This may seem disheartening. It’s not THE ANSWER. And it certainly doesn’t make our lives any easier. But I also think you already know this to be true deep down in your gut. I also hope it will take off a little of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to hurry up and be “there” already. (Preaching to the choir, I promise you!) Mostly, though, I think if you can learn to simply BE in each step of the writing process, you’ll enjoy the journey more and feel more like a successful writer every step of the way.

 

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About Jamie

Jamie Raintree is an author and a writing business teacher. She is also a mother of two girls, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. Her debut novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017 by Graydon House. Subscribe to her newsletter for more writing tips, workshops, and book news. To find out more, visit her website.

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February 20th, 2017

Bad Review Blues – Some Perspective from the Trenches

Kate Moretti

From the moment you hit send on those final pass pages or click submit to upload all your hard work to Amazon, the novel you lovingly poured your heart into for the past two, five, ten years now belongs to everyone but you. It belongs to every reader, critic, reviewer, blogger, and consumer. This is both exhilarating and terrifying and sometimes you just have to drink vodka and that’s okay.

So you drink and wait for feedback. And maybe you hit refresh a few thousand times but who’s counting. Eventually, the reviews start dribbling in, day by day, little by little, and some are great and you are happy. Relaxed. Maybe you can even start book #2.

Then it happens. The meanest, nastiest review you ever read. The characters are ridiculous. The plot doesn’t make sense. Nothing was believable. The reader wants their $5 ($10) back and hopes you are surrounded by hellfire for eternity. Or maybe it’s a scathing professional review.

Either way, you guys. This is hard. And we all know the golden rule: Do not respond.

So, how do you cope? How do you keep writing when you clearly suck at this, people HATE YOU (Everyone hates you *sob*)? How, HOW, HOW?? <shakes the collar of the nearest stranger>.

Because you don’t suck at this.

Because even though it feels like everyone hates your book, if you do the math, like three people hated your book.

Take a deep breath. Let’s look at the different kinds of negative reviews and how to deal with them:

1. The blatant hate.

These kinds of reviews are the best kind of bad review, in my opinion. A review that is mean, crass, vulgar, nasty says more about the reviewer than about your book.

This sounds like hokey lip-service but think about it. Would you, as a high functioning member of society, ever walk into an art gallery or ballet or any kind of artistic endeavor and rail on the performer where they might hear you or see it? No. No you wouldn’t because you are a decent person.

My theory here is that readers don’t believe that writers read their reviews. The get validation from how clever they can be, either on Goodreads or Amazon. Amazon has set up a system where particularly cunning reviewers, whose reviews are marked “helpful” can then, in turn, be rewarded with free books and products. Sometimes people who are downright cruel enjoy the “likes” they get from this. This is why I skim my Amazon reviews periodically, and rarely look at my Goodreads reviews.

But I do have my weak moments. Anonymity on the internet makes this phenomenon particularly contagious. TRY to not let it get to you. This is weak advice, I know. I have nothing else, except for me, it helps to understand the motivation of the reviewer.

2. The 3-star meh.

Oh, these hurt me. Mostly because they’re logical, smart, and at least half the time, the reviewer is right. The characterization was thin here, or the plot hole didn’t totally make sense. You’ll never write a perfect book. NEVER. EVER.

For me, I read these with one eye shut. I digest them. I take them to heart. I figure out if it resonates with me. If it does, I learn from it. I keep it in mind when I’m writing from here on out. If I get a handful of these that touch on the same theme, I know that I dropped the ball. That’s okay. We’re only human, we’re going to drop at least one ball. There are eighty-five thousand words, a few of them will be not perfect.

3. The 1-2 star “not for me.”

These hurt less than the 3-star meh for me, but they still kind of grab me. I could have had them. Something was missed. Sometimes, they weren’t my reader. And that has to be okay.

Sometimes the reviewer is wrong. “How can a child have blue eyes when both parents have brown eyes? DO YOUR RESEARCH!” And the answer is simply, genetically this is possible. They’re one-starring you for their ignorance. Your fingers itch, you want to type back (with sources, dagnabbit!). Step away from your computer!

4. The harsh professional.

I’ll be honest here. I didn’t *love* my New York Times book review. YES. I GOT ONE. YES. That’s amazing. I should be grateful. This is literally what every person I’ve ever told has said. I did buy the paper and save the review in print, for this reason. I won’t link to it, but you can look it up. It had some great parts. It had some petty swipes. My editor said, “You haven’t made it until you’ve been ripped, just a little, in the New York Times Book Review.”

Eventually, this is the balm that did it. Eventually. But it took some time. I spent a lot of time reading other people’s terrible NYT reviews and that helped.

Remember this: Kirkus is called Cranky Kirkus for a reason. Almost everyone in the business gets a not-so-stellar professional review at some point. When the new reviews come out, read them. There’s a camaraderie that develops here. If you ever happen to be in a room with other writers who have gotten less-than professional reviews, the topic can come up, especially after some wine. Revel in being one of the gang.

Remember, everyone who writes has been there.

Think of your favorite contemporary book in recent memory. I picked BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by SJ Watson. I thought this book was basically brilliant and a total mind mess and yet someone said this about it (read this review only if you’ve read the book because it contains spoilers). That’s like almost 500 words, a numerated list of all the things wrong with it. 124 people found it helpful. It has sixteen comments (lots of cheerleading).

Here’s the kicker, it’s the reviewer’s only review. Nothing about this review rang true to me. AT ALL. I’ve done this for some of my favorite suspense authors: Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, Caroline Kepnes. I’ve read their 1-star and 2-star reviews and I’ve vehemently disagreed with every word of them. Sometimes I find myself getting madder at my favorite book’s low reviews than my own!

The world is made up of a weird mix of people. Your opinions, as a person, will jive with only a small fraction of them. Expect your books to be similar. It’s a hard little pill to swallow, and sometimes the only thing that heals it is time. But just know, we’ve all been there. We’re with you.

What do you do when you get bad reviews? If you feel up to it, share a few choice phrases in the comments.

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About Kate

2347337.jpgKate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of the women’s fiction novel, Thought I Knew You. Her second novel Binds That Tie  was released in March 2014. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life. Her latest book, The Vanishing Year is available for pre-order and will be out September 27.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like. Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

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Top photo credit: Thad Zajdowicz (@thadz, Flickr)