The Guide to Handling a Bad Review

One of the things I hear a lot about or get asked about are reviews.

Let me begin by saying this: as a new author I fell into this trap and it’s a very ugly trap to be in.

Reviews are never going to be 5 star across the board. In fact, having some bad reviews mixed into the gushing and glowing reviews is a good thing. It gives you and your book credibility. If a reader sees nothing but five stars they believe the reviewers are your friends and family.

So rule number one? Embrace the negative reviews.

Embrace them? Absolutely.

Every well thought out review has validity to it. Read it. Process it. Do better. The end.

Rule number two: Do. Not. Respond.

A lot of bad reviewers are also great “trollers”. Don’t get caught up in the fodder storm. You’ll end up wearing shit even if you “win” … which you won’t. It only makes you look bad in the end.

Rule number three: see rule number one, rinse, repeat.

Trust me, I know the temptation to chime in and set people straight. Let’s pick one of my own and put it out there.

I had a “duo” pick up a free copy of my book and review it. A review which seemed to be done in Facebook messenger then copied and pasted on their “review site”.

Reading the review was torture. It felt like a text-based, Mean Girls episode. It was incredibly juvenile but the worst part was when they said I needed serious edits when they themselves could not spell. Including “LOL” in a review is the first clue to run. Anyone who uses “OMG” and “LOL” in a review meant to be taken seriously isn’t worth my time of being upset, let alone a response. And believe me, I value my time.

You’re sending out a piece of art. Art is subjective. Not everyone gets your art and not everyone should. You’re not writing a how-to book so don’t expect everyone to understand your idea.

However, if your negatives outweigh the positives it might be something you need to consider. Take it as a learning experience and move forward. If you’re too busy reading and lamenting over a review you’re not writing and working towards something new. Your readers who enjoy your work are waiting. Get over it, dust your shoulders off, dry your tears, and get to work.

If you allow a nasty reviewer to keep you from doing what you love you’re not meant to be an author. This industry is cut-throat and you are supposed to be the expert. Get back to it or get into your cage. There’s no room for weak spines in horror.

Have you received a bad review? How did you handle it? Want to share a bad review and let us critique it for a good laugh? Leave it in comments!

Remember this one important fact: You write because you love to. Who cares if a couple people don’t like it? Are they so important it’s worth you losing your passion? Let me help you with the answer. No. No they aren’t.

And if you’re a reviewer who likes being nasty and rude for kicks? Go get a hug. Internet trolls are so 1997. It’s time to grow up. And get spellcheck “LOL”.

Body Bag Betty 001

The smoke danced off the edge of her cigarette which dangled between two long fingers tipped by HellFire red lacquer.  Her eyes were closed, oblivious to the rest of the world as she swayed back and forth. The men stood there in silence. She was thinking. And they knew better than to disturb her when she was like this. 

“I specifically said clear plastic,” her voice cut through the tension like a scalpel. 

“Y-yes ma’am but on short notice–”

Betty-Body Bag Betty as the world knew her-rose to her feet and lashed out with the box cutter. A thin red line appeared along the throat of the man who brought her excuses in lieu of her demands. 

“Every fucking time, Andy,” she said in a quiet, even tone, “Every fucking time I give you a task you screw it up.” 

Andy didn’t respond. He couldn’t. His hands were wrapped around his own throat in a futile attempt to stop it from bleeding. His eyes were wide and his lips were moving but all that came out were gurgles and coughs. The thin line of her initial attack opened up into a nasty laceration, severing his windpipe. Andy’s vision was growing dark and the last face he saw was hers as he fell to his knees. Bad idea. The momentum of his fall caused the wound to rip further and the pooling blood was creeping toward her brand new stilettos. 

Bringing her cigarette to her lips, neatly lined and painted in the same matching red as her nails, she sat back down in the chair in front of Andy his life pumped out. Her mouth embraced the soft butt of her cancer stick and she pulled in the toxic fumes deeply, letting her lungs fill with it before exhaling. 

The white tendrils rolled out, swirling and dancing upward into a halo around her head. 

“Clear plastic, Andy,” she repeated. “It helps to see the blood splatter patterns so we can clean, properly.”

Dropping the cigarette into the thick, coagulating puddle of blood, it let out a hiss before it snuffed out, “This is why you get caught. And this is why they sent me to kill you.”

(To be continued… stay tuned for more BODY BAG BETTY excerpts or sign up for my newsletter for the full novella chronicles starting January 2018. New chronicle will be released every month! http://www.unsaintly.com)

The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride

http://www.unfleshed.com

#amreading #amwriting #horror #womeninhorror #Halloween #Giveaway

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Young Morrigan, the daughter of a local aristocrat, is full of innocence and life. Angus Wulfe is an eccentric and devious doctor who stalks her while he cultivates a plan to win her affection. Their two worlds collide in a grisly twist of fate when the Plague arrives on the shores of their town. With no cure in sight, and bodies dropping incrementally every day, the doctor uses his influence, along with his reputation in medical advances – stemming from his clandestine and macabre experiments-to manipulate Morrigan’s father. In return for her hand in marriage, the doctor would save her life. Clinging to life, Morrigan begins to feel a change. Has the doctor cured her, or did her father make a deal with the Devil?

♦◊Win your own copy on GoodReads


 

Lisa Vasquez proves with her novel “The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride” she is a writer of nightmarish vision and a new, poetic voice in today’s horror genre. Her prose sings like a sonnet while driving the knife of dread ever further into her reader’s imagination. In her villain, Angus Wulfe, Vasquez has created someone so dastardly and surgical in his malevolence he lives and breathes on the page. I also hope to see Wulfe again in another installment, if possible, as I was sorry to see the book come to a close. Wulfe is as terrifying in his polished yet sociopathic intent as Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter. “The Unfleshed” sets the standard for the modern horror novel, and raises the bar quite high!

– Peter Molnaron, Author

A copy of The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Lisa Vasquez in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Stitched Smile Publications.

It has been quite a while since I have read anything from Lisa Vasquez. I think this is a combination of me being busy and Lisa being hellish busy setting up Stitched Smile Publications. I have been watching from the wings and this press is putting out some rather nice titles.

The first book I read of Lisa’s was The Unsaintly. I really liked it but it didn’t tick all the boxes for me so I was hoping for a bit more from The Unfleshed.

This is what I thought.

The year is 1348. The Plague is ravaging everything in its wake. In London, Doctor Angus Wulfe is convinced he can find a cure. For this, everyone thinks him a saint. Little do they know the level of depravity that goes on behind his closed doors.

He is in love with Morrigan. When she becomes infected, Wulfe convinces her father that he can save her, as long as he consents to giving Wulfe her hand in marriage.

Is he really Morrigan’s salvation, or is he really going to cause the total destruction of London.

In terms of characters in this one, Angus Wulfe is without doubt the main one. In the times, he is known as an upstanding member of society, purely because he is a doctor. No one truly understands the level of evil lurking inside this man. He is one of the characters I have hated most in my reading career. His sidekick, Marshall, goes along with most of the bad things Wulfe does. But he has a conscience at least. It’s a case of being too afraid to do the right thing. Morrigan is the beauty in this tale opposite Wulfe’s beast. Coming from a well to do family, she is well respected and lusted after by many. She was destined for bigger and better things before the plague hit.

There are a host of other characters that all play their parts extremely well in this tale, but I want to talk more about the writing than the characters in this one.

The plot is simple. Wulfe loves Morrigan but doesn’t stand a hope in hell of ever getting her. Until she gets ill, and he cons her father into his consent to their marriage. He takes Morrigan back to his pad and……….

It sounds simple. It actually sounds a bit like a chick flick, doesn’t it? Ugly boy falls in love with beautiful girl who wouldn’t normally go near him and they end up together. The sort of film you could watch with your mother.

Oh, how very wrong you are!

The previous book I read from Ms Vasquez was very deep. It was confusing at times and the story took a bit of getting used to in terms of how everything came together in the end.

Not this baby. This is horrible. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean it in the most positive way possible. Lisa Vasquez has a really nasty streak in her, in terms of her writing. The previous book was centred around a wholesome girl. This one is centred around, as I said earlier, a character that I hated more than most I have ever read about. He is vile. He is evil personified. If he was standing beside the person you most hated in the world and you had a gun with two bullets and were allowed to shoot them both, you would put both bullets in Wulfe.

The clever thing about this? You wouldn’t hate him as much if it wasn’t for the way Lisa Vasquez has written him. This can only point to one thing. This girl writes good!

The story itself is simplistic, there are no two ways about that. It has the possibility of turning into a rather stale tale but Ms Vasquez keeps the story entertaining and revolting at the same time. Each time you think it is going to go lame, she introduces something else and takes it back to the horrific side of things again by introducing some scenes that I would not like to read whilst eating.

The story develops very well into a fast-paced race against time, for both Wulfe, and those against him.

So why not full marks then? There were a couple of things that I found to be a little off-putting, for want of a better phrase. Even though it is made clear that this story is set it 1348, it felt, to me anyway, like the times got a little bit mixed up. There were a couple of occasions where I found myself believing this was set much later in history and it pulled me out of the story a bit. I have a feeling that I will be the only person alive to think this when reading the book but I need to be honest after all.

I also was a little disappointed in the ending. Again, I am probably being over critical but it felt as if it ended very quickly. A bit rushed.

Putting that aside though, this is a crackin book. Lisa Vasquez has taken some interesting facts from our history and given them a distinctly evil twist, turning this story into a style of horror that some of our ancestral horror writers would be very proud of, if they had written it.

To summarise: a horror tale set in olden times that will thoroughly entertain you while turning your stomach and having you scream for someone to kill the bad guy the whole way through.

General rating:
★★★★ enjoyed this one.

Horror rating:
★★★★ certainly scary.

‘The Unfleshed’ is definitely the scariest thing I’ve read this year. I pride myself on my de-sensitivity to violence and my ability to stomach even the most macabre Rob Zombie flick- but this shook me a little.

From the very first page Vasquez drops us into the proverbial and she doesn’t stop hitting us with gore until somewhere after the second chapter. This is not a ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ horror, nor is it a build-you-up-for-five-hundred-pages slow burner. ‘The Unfleshed’ hits you in the face on page one and doesn’t let you go until long after you realise you are dealing with a serial killer. Hard hitting is an understatement. Reading it is almost a dare…you dare yourself to turn the page, you dare yourself to finish the chapter…It would seem that if you want a good scare you need to get this woman to do it.

The cold depth of the male antagonist gives a fresh approach to the serial killer genre. A true killer- an evil maniac; is not Dexter. He is not approachable and friendly, he is not warm and fuzzy and he does not make you laugh. Vasquez has somehow managed to capture the monster without making us want to throw up all over the page. Great work lady, keep paving the way for women in horror.

And one last thing… Do not read this before you go to bed.

– Katriona E MacMillan
(author: Edelwiess; Dark Science )

Discussion: Word Count VS Word Quality

One of the things I encounter a lot when I’m mentoring, or speaking to new authors, is the question, “What’s the average word count for _____?”

It’s not uncommon for new authors to face this daunting question, then fashion their work according to the rule of “word count”. My answer, however, never changes. I tell the, “Focus on the quality of the words, not the word count.”

I know there are naysayers out there who firmly believe in stringent rules for word counts. A novel must be over 60-75k words. Unless it’s in the Fantasy genre. Then we aim higher for 90k words. While these are fair goals to shoot for, it can start to hinder progress. If the author is caught up in shaving, or padding their story, the story itself suffers.

An author needs to be focused on things like character development, story development, timelines, grammar, and plot. Without these, who cares how many words are in between the front and back cover? I’ve encountered a fair amount of books where the story idea is a fantastic one, but the execution is flat. There’s nothing worse than getting your reader hyped for a cool plot then leaving them high and dry.

Essentially, when you put the time into the elements which make a story great, you establish trust between yourself and your reader. They know, no matter how thick, or thin your book is, they are in for a ride. And to be fair, you should always label your book in the correct category once it’s complete. Readers are very particular. When they purchase a book and expect a novel but only get 20k words, they get upset, too. Imagine you’re on the best date of your life, and right in the middle of it, the person turns and says, “I have to go.” Kind of the same thing, here. Especially if they are paying the price of a novel.

Another thing to consider, is editing. Once your story goes to an editor, they will decide whether your story can best be told without the padding, or if it requires more words. The best exercise you can practice, is to audit the words you use.

Ahh, now there’s a word we don’t see often. We all know what editing is, but what is auditing?

For me, auditing is when you take stock of the words you’ve used and ask yourself this question, “Is this a powerful image?”

You want your readers to use all five senses when they read your story. We all have our own ideas of: beautiful, smells bad, dark, ugly. To be honest, it’s all perspective. Why leave it to them to interpret? Instead of saying, “It smelled bad.” Drag the reader kicking and screaming into it with you! Only – you have to be careful. Do not overload them with adjectives. This is what it means when editors say, “show, don’t tell.”

Simple examples:

Instead of, “There were a lot of trees.” 

You could say, “It was a lavish treeline.”

Same amount of words but paints a better picture.

I hope this has helped you in some way. Let me hear your thoughts! Going forward, I’m going to post some exercises, more tips and tricks, as well as anything else I can dig out of my box of treasures. I hope you’ll interact  and share with me. Let me know how something has helped you in the comments below!

lisa
A WOMAN and CREATOR, WEAVER OF DREAMS, TELLER OF TALES, with an IMAGINATION AS DARK AS A RAVEN’S EYE, THE LIBRAE, THE ORACLE … SHE IS; THE HUSHED WHISPER AMONG THE GRAVES, THE CORRUPTOR, THE HERETIC, THE DARQUE HALO

Twitter: @unsaintly  |  Instagram: @unsaintly  |  Website: unsaintly.com

The Unhowling: A Work in Progress

793 A.D. Northumberland, England
Lindisfarne Monastery

Alkuin is a banished priest who struggles to maintain a secret held far from the reach of the people of England when an attack by a Viking ship forces him to unleash a beast so dangerous it could change mankind forever. The Catholic Church called it an abomination but will it save them from a fate much worse?

Follow me here to get teasers and glimpses into my WIPs (Works in Progress): https://www.wattpad.com/story/74576047-the-unhowling

The Unhowling

The First 90 Days

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The first 90 days of any employment is the grace period. So they say.  It’s an opportunity for an employee to say, “this place is crackers” or for an employer to say, “you’re an idiot”.

The first 90 days of the journey with Stitched Smile Publications, my brand new company, has been a complete dream. Yes, there have been snags and hiccups along the way, but the team I’ve found and put together is first class.

We have, since January,  put out 8 books. We’ve hit top 100 with two of those. And each book has a great rating and set of reviews on Amazon.

The only drawback I can see is that there’s less time for me to write but that’s OK. I write in my own time and way. So this is actually…perfect.

I’ve learned that people want to associate themselves with me or my company’s name, now. Not a bad thing. Just weird. I’m trying to get accustomed to people knowing me by reputation and name. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of gal. I like to sit and observe from the corner but this position pushes me right into the spotlight… kicking and screaming.

I love this, though. I’ve never felt more right or accomplished as I do right now.

Because this is the house that Stitch made….and it’s a fine house, at that.