Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children and three dogs. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and her military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (ICRA Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (January 2012).
Let’s be honest: writing is tough. In so many ways that I’m not sure it’s possible to count them. And being a Jelly in A Rhino World (see my article about that), navigating these churning waters is often challenging at best and crushing at worst. In July, my newest title released: Wolfsbane, Discarded Heroes #3. It’s my fourth title and the third book in the Discarded Heroes series, so I’ve been around the block a few times. Ya’d think getting bad reviews would be old hat. That my armor would, by now, be so thick and impervious to the snark and negativity that I’d sail through.
(Are you done laughing yet?)
Over the last 15 months since my debut release of Dead Reckoning, I’ve finaled in contests, received reader acclaim, been noted as a favorite new author, and it’s just been fabulous and encouraging. Truly unexpected but also thoroughly appreciated since I’d just stepped over the line from unpublished to published.
But it didn’t make the challenges go away. There are still contests you don’t final in, reviews to burn your eyeballs out, and other authors who think they can do it so much better than you (and sometimes, they’re right!).
But what has truly been discouraging to me in the last few months has been the ready and eager willingness of both published and unpublished authors to tear down other writers. I’m a softie (did you check out that Jelly article yet?). I can’t stand to see others hurt or when I perceive a motive less than genuine used to mask a negative review.
Don’t get me wrong—reasoned reviews are very welcomed. And I’m not saying don’t write a negative review, but weigh carefully your words. For once spoken, they cannot be taken back.
Then there are the contests (wow, I heard that groan!). As a prepubbed author, I entered contests and saw disparity in scoring. But guess what? That happens as a published author too. For example, my high score for one entry was a 98.6 and my low score was a 52. Yes, that’s nearly a FORTY-SEVEN point difference. After I choked down those scores, I cried. Then I dried my tears and sat back, considering what it meant.
Ya know what I realized?
Contests are no different than the reviews you’ll see splattered on Amazon, CBD, B&N—they are by different people and the scores/ratings will vary. In other words, your story will resonate with some readers, but not all. Sure, we’d love to think everyone will love our stories, but that’s a fantasy (er, not the genre, but a state of mind).
Someone will absolutely love your story while another will wonder how on earth you got published. This reviewer will say you’re literary genius, the next will liken you to sewer sludge.
Actually, let’s say they’re both right. Just as your characters bring unique experiences and subsets of hurts/joys to the story, so do your readers. Each reader will approach your story with different views, hurts, joys, and that’s what makes them uniquely them. And that’s why there are so many different types of writers.
I’m learning in this ever-changing industry that expects its authors to be engaged with the readers via social media to not let this swaying of opinions define me as an author. Yes, if there is a consensus in all reviews or a majority, you need to pay attention and perhaps reconsider something in your writing.
As I’ve said a lot—write the best story you can. If you can walk away from a story saying you did your best, then let it rest and move on.
A CHALLENGE TO READERS/REVIEWERS
Writers live in a lonely world—by ourselves, developing characters who aren’t real (no, I promise…they’re not LOL). As a whole, our personalities are prone to depression and loneliness (check the stats—they’ll support that!), so why would we make it worse on each other? As mentioned earlier, I know I’ve fallen victim to the Beast (of pride). I mean…who hasn’t thought, I could write the story better than that! But, can you–really?
Does it matter? That’s not your story. Why bother to compare? Is it that our fragile egos need the stroking? Who, truly, do you think you’re going to impact by publicly tearing down an author and pointing out all it’s “faults.”
Instead of griping and tearing each other apart, instead of letting our heads get puffed up and our hearts hard, realize that something in that story moved it past an editorial committee, a publishing board, and the marketing board. Words, plots, and themes caressed under the careful guidance of the author, critique partners, the acquiring editor, the copy editor, and any number of other editors. Rejoice that a writer realized their dream!
Let’s face it—we all enjoy hearing praise. And sadly, many times we do not hear it enough. I teach my four children that there’s enough negativity in the world. When they tell me a Wal-Mart cashier was nice, I stop and tell them to go back and thank them. Every moment like that is an opportunity to be a counterbalance. Seek out the good and positive things around us! Anyone can be critical. That’s easy. It takes a stronger person to see the positive, a person who keeps themselves properly attuned and aware that we all started at our own beginning.
This is a plea to remove our focus from the “faults” of others. Be a source of encouragement and truth—administered with care and concern. Check out Operation Encourage an Author, a site dedicated to keeping things positive and encouraging authors. Or find your favorite author on Facebook or Twitter and let them know they rock.
“If you only know one thing, know this—whatever happens down there, I’m not coming back without you.” With those words, former Green Beret Canyon Metcalfe convinces Danielle Roark that his black-ops group, Nightshade, will protect her in the same jungles where she endured six months of rape and captivity. The mission goes bad almost as soon as they are choppered in and get ambushed. When a massive mudslide separate Canyon and Dani from the team, the two must fight their way to safety. When attraction becomes a distraction and Canyon’s mind is addled by painkillers, he can only blame himself for what happens next.