Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Screw The Review

As a writer, I like to share my reviews. By doing that, I hope to entice readers to check out my books. It’s a great way to thank a reader for a positive review, and to show potential readers that it’s worth their time. It’s all part of how us independent authors promote our books.

Yesterday, I went to Amazon to screenshot a recent review that I could share on Instagram. Because I had recently looked at my book, it was in my browsing history. I saw the number next to the book had increased by one, which meant I had a new review. Then I noticed the stars had decreased from 5 to 4, so I braced myself for a bad review. Sure enough, there was a new review. It wasn’t… bad… until it was.

A 4 star review is a bitchy move in my eyes. It means you enjoyed the book enough to give it praise, but your ego is in the way so taking away that one star makes you feel powerful. This person who deemed my book only worthy of her 4 precious stars is someone who has read the first three books in my series and loved them so much, she often promotes me on Instagram. I’ve been forever grateful that she gives me constant shout outs. She hasn’t promoted me recently, and really, that’s fine. I just figured she was busy writing because she’s also an author, or maybe she’s been reading. I know she’s an avid reader and is always talking about her latest read.

Why did I put the fact that she’s an author in bold? Because I think it’s important to point that out. In her review, she praised the path of the story and the happy ending these characters finally get to have. (Trust me, I got some hate from books one and two!) That was great, she loved how it moved forward. Then she insulted my writing. She used a term that is so demeaning to other authors because we’re all “warned” against doing it. Head hopping. Moving from one perspective to another. Look it up. Everything you see about it will tell you that it’s basically writing suicide.

I disagree for several reasons. I believe that in writing, the rules are… there are no rules. Write what you want to read. I like to read books that have different perspectives in the same chapter. I write in third person. One reviewer called it semi-omniscient. When you watch a movie, you see reactions and emotions from all the characters. Why shouldn’t you experience that in a book? Also, because I see this term pop up frequently, I’ve done my research and if there is a genre where that rule can be broken, it’s in romance. Why? Because romance is the main point of view. Guess what? I write romance.

I have wonderful editors and final readers. Highly intelligent individuals who would tell me if my work didn’t make any sense. This person- who put that term in the review that’s available for the whole world to see on Amazon and Goodreads- had the decency after reading book 3, to email me and point out a few things she thought should be changed. Ok, I was a little taken aback that she would do that. I mean, I’d never think to do that to her, but at least she kept it private. This wasn’t private! I was so insulted, hurt really, that I got in my head all day and chastised myself for being a horrible writer!

Was that what she hoped to accomplish? Did she need to tear me down in order to build herself up? Has she never heard the phrase, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I wonder, if she knew how horrible I felt about myself after reading that, if maybe she wouldn’t have said that. She’s an author! A fellow writer! We’re all in this together, especially in the independent world. I’ve read several self-published books that I didn’t like. Because I’d never publicly shame someone or insult them, I gave them a positive review, pointed out what I did like, and kept my mouth shut on what I didn’t like. What’s the point?

As my editor’s husband pointed out, it’s one thing to leave a bad review about a product that didn’t work correctly but to say that about another person’s work is just plain shitty. I know that reviews are only opinions. But if her opinion of the overall story was a good one, why did she feel the need to take a dig? And it was a dig. How would she like it if I did it to her?

When I first started my journey as a writer, I received this advice, “Connect With Other Writers”. I did that. I went to a conference, met fellow romance authors there. I’ve connected with several writers on Instagram, done those stupid follow loops where people follow you, then unfollow you when you follow them back. I’ve collaborated with another author (More on that in a future post.) Do you know what connecting with other writers has done for me? It’s made me feel like shit about myself. I’ve participated in several author takeovers on Facebook and never gained a new reader. To me it was just a gathering of authors to see who had the best graphics and I never felt like I did compared to theirs. All I’ve seen are cliques of people who are never going to let you into their circle. No matter what I’ve done, or how I’ve tried to connect, I’ve always ended up feeling like the odd girl out. For the love of ***!!! I’m in my forties, I have no desire to feel like an awkward teenager again!

I honestly don’t know why this person said what she said. It was mean-spirited. End of story. I won’t reach out to ask her because if I wanted her critique I would have asked for it. In private. I hope she feels better about herself now. Maybe she needed to feel like she got her $3.99 worth from the purchase of the eBook.

If you’ve made it this far in this post, thank you for reading. Several people have told me to take it as compliment. “Brooke, you have a hater! You’ve made it!” Just be careful with your words when you’re leaving a review. Hundreds, probably thousands, of hours went into creating my book. For any author reading this, I know you can relate.

Rant over, but I’m still upset. I know a thick skin is needed in any industry if you want to succeed. I try to stay away from reviews because all it takes is one “meh” one to get into my head. But those good reviews really help us writers move forward. The bad ones make us want to walk away from something we love so much. So, from now on, my motto will be, Screw The Review!

Novel, Self Publishing, Writer's Block, Writing

8 Reasons I Don’t Want To Write… Right Now

It’s been a tough week in the world of writing. I’m really struggling to get through another chapter of my work in progress. It’s not because the story is boring, or because I don’t feel connected to my characters. There are a lot of reasons I’m just not feeling it right now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. This is what I want to do full time. I want to write, create stories, and share them with the world. I want to be a best selling author. I want all of that. But this week, I don’t want to write.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Then of course, I question myself. Am I blocked or unmotivated? Some people will argue that writer’s block doesn’t truly exist. It simply means you’re unmotivated to put the work into your manuscript. I disagree with that. While I may entertain the idea that writer’s block isn’t real, because I’m not lacking for ideas or the path of my current story, I don’t think it’s always lack of motivation. For me, what I’ve realized in the past few days is, I’m burned out. I’ve put a lot of work into my current new release. I’m trying to build a business while I’m promoting my work. I think I’m spreading myself a bit thin and starting to recognize that a small break is in order.

I hope you continue to read so I can share with you, the 8 reasons I don’t want to write… right now.

  1. Burn Out
    Like I said, I’m stretching myself too thin between writing, editing, promoting, and working on growing my business so I can make money to contribute to my family.
  2. Netflix
    I blame You. Not you, the one reading this. I blame You. Season 3 of the crazy, messed up show came out last week and consumed me for three days. Yup, I binge watched the entire thing. Before that, I binge watched Midnight Mass. I keep finding shows to get sucked into and it’s cutting into my writing time.
  3. Mind Chatter
    I usually only struggle with mind chatter when I’m trying to meditate. Maybe I need to meditate? Maybe that will clear my head because right now, there’s a lot swirling around in there and it’s stifling my creativity.
  4. I’m In My Head
    Here’s the thing I’m really struggling with. Have you ever read one author’s work and several books into their inventory, you realize you’re basically reading the same story, just with different characters and a different location? I remember thinking this with one of my favorite authors. I’m not going to say who, because they’re a huge inspiration to me, but the last book of theirs I read, I remember thinking that it was all familiar. Sassy, strong female calls out mopey, distant male. They have witty banter where she puts him in his place several times, then of course, they have sex and all of that melts away. The details, and pacing of these books became so routine for me as I was reading that I stopped reading this author. I’m afraid that’s going to happen with me. I know, I know… I’m the first person to tell another artist to never compare your work to others, but this is really getting to me. Are my stories predictable? Do all of my characters experience intimacy in the same way? Are my steamy sex scenes predictable and boring? In my current WIP, I’m facing a steamy scene and I realize this is what is making me struggle. I’m so worried I’m going to write it like I’ve written so many before, so I’m just not doing it.
  5. Life
    I’ve got some stuff going on in my personal life that’s pretty heavy. Not sharing it, just listing that this is one of the reasons I’m not pushing forward. It’s hard to create when a certain situation keeps popping into your mind, and then all you can do is cry. Or get angry. Those emotions can fuel a good scene, but that’s not what I’m working with right now.
  6. Music
    Don’t get me wrong. Music is amazing and I love so many genres and have tons of favorite songs. Lately, I get certain songs stuck in my head. Not just an annoying ear worm (I hate that saying, by the way) but the same songs that will pop into my head at all hours, even late night hours when I’m supposed to be sound asleep. I’ll wake up out of nowhere with these songs in my head, and it’s not even the whole song. It’s a line in a song that repeats over and over and it annoys me. The more it annoys me, the more it plays. Anyone have any advice for clearing that? Seriously. I hate it.
  7. Social Media
    Yes, I know it’s my fault that I log into Facebook and scroll Instagram, but it’s a total distraction, not to mention a time suck and I’m 100% guilty. It’s great for procrastinating!
  8. I’m Selfish
    Yes, you read that right. I fully admit that I am a selfish person and that’s why I’m not writing. Here’s the thing. When characters present their stories to me, it’s just me and them for a long time. I watch the saga like a movie in my head. When I’m ready to start putting it into words, I’ve already become invested in them. Their lives, their heartache, their love… everything. When I am getting close to finishing a book, I slow down. I want to cherish those private moments I’ve witnessed and I’m not so quick to share. It happens with every book I write. For the past week, I’ve been daydreaming, which is important work for writers! I see their story, I feel their feelings, and I’m keeping it to myself because I’m not ready for it to end yet.

Follow up…

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

It’s been about a week since I wrote my 8 reasons why I didn’t want to write. I took the time to give my brain a rest. I have things I want to accomplish, and I’ve learned that when I try to rush through them, or do them all at once, I start to get frustrated and things don’t go as planned. That’s ok. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you’re working on, no matter how important it is to you. That break resets your mind. Creativity comes back. The words flow, my fingers move over my keyboard with ease. The words are definitely back. I’ve finished the chapter I was working on and my characters got to enjoy a steamy moment together. I’m still slowing down since I’m near the end of this particular book. I can’t help it. I love them and they’re real to me. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them yet, so for the time being, I’ll remain a little selfish.

Fellow writers, artists, musicians, creators of all kinds… how to you deal with a block? Do you believe in blocks, or do you think it’s being unmotivated or being burned out? I want to hear from you!

Thank you for reading my blog… stay tuned for more!

Job Interview, Workplace Drama, Writing

Current WIP

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Through my years working as a receptionist, administrative assistant, and an executive assistant, I’ve experienced some pretty crazy things! From bad bosses, to outlandish gossip, I’ve seen it all and I’ve heard it all. Some situations are so out there, you’d have to actually be there to experience it in order to believe it.
At one point, I started to outline a book sharing all of my experiences, but I decided to do something different instead.

For the past 2 years, I’ve been working as a virtual assistant. (Check out my Facebook page here!) I’ve taken my years of office experience and I’m now offering my services to solo professionals and small business owners. I specialize in helping them with all the admin pieces of their businesses, like email newsletters, website updates, and calendar management.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If you’ve followed my writing, you may remember that a few years ago, I started to document the interviews I was going on in my search for a new job. Some were great experiences, some of them were absolutely ridiculous, none of them ended with a job offer.

So, you may wonder what one has to do with the other. Administration and writing fiction. Well, instead of writing a non-fiction book about my observations as an admin, or about all the tea I could spill, I decided to merge the two.

My current work in progress, or WIP, is titled Executive Decisions. It follows the story of blogger Lauren Lane, who has had a year filled with 17 job interviews and not one offer. In the 17th interview, Lauren meets Drew Hanson, the CEO of Hanson Enterprises. Drew peeks at her blog ten minutes before her arrival and decides right on the spot that he’s not going to hire her. During Lauren’s interview, he even quotes her writing back to her about her job interview experience.

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While most writers might be thrilled to have their work quoted back to them… Remember that scene from When Harry Met Sally? Harry’s friend Jess says, “No one has ever quoted me back to me before.” This should be a writer’s dream for Lauren, but not the way Drew Hanson does it. A run in after their interview shows the reader that these two might never see eye to eye. Instead of doing the mature thing and moving on from a bad interview, Lauren decides to take the low road for a bit and make Drew a perfect example of what a bad CEO looks like.

I have been having fun writing this book! When I write, my characters become real to me. It’s been nice to have Lauren to “share” my experiences with. She’s bold and honest when it comes to speaking up about the interviews she’s had, along with crazy workplace drama that she shares along the way.

I write contemporary romance, so somehow these two make peace and have an epic love story. Stay tuned for this one, you won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, Meant To Be, book 4 in the Heart & Soul series will be available on October 5. Take a look at my author page on Amazon to see all of my books.

Thanks for stopping by!