Tag Archives: novels

LONE STAR STATEMENT

By Marguerite Quantaine

I’ve often tried to hearten authors who despair over bad reviews, reminding them that a critic says as much about herself as the book she applauds, or pans (even though no amount of encouraging words can provide solace to one whose sales figures might plummet as a result of an unmerited critique).
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Nevertheless, having recently received my first one star review since the release of my novel in 2014, I’ve decided to discuss the evaluation here, as a way to reaffirm my assertion that words reveal the nature of every writer.
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IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true love story
1.0 out of 5 stars
Where did all those 5 star reviews come from?
By Jxxxxxxxx Gxxxxxx
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“Thank goodness you can “Try a Sample” of every Kindle book. I have saved myself a lot of disappointment by getting the sample first.

I didn’t get very far with this book. The main character wakes up one morning and tries to piece together the events of the night before. She got a little drunk, danced with a woman, and kissed her.

I do not have a issue with this being a love story between two women. We have our gays. But the author starts her story at such a frenetic pace; the main character is in complete meltdown mode, and the author is heavy on the details of this woman’s inner life. It was just all too much. The author uses a lot of words and doesn’t say much.”
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IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE VALIDITY of any evaluation, ask yourself five quick questions:.
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1. What one sentence stands out the most in the review of your book?
For me,  in this review, that sentence was, “We have our gays.”
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2. What does it tell you about the nature of person who wrote the review of your book?
I suspected homophobia, but condescension also came to mind.
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However, I don’t allow perceived obviousness to detract from any valid portion of a review.
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True, at first this person contends she doesn’t have an issue with the book being a love story between two women — then clarifies her assertion by being exclusively categorical. But she follows the clarification by warning the reader of the fast pace the book sets, and that the “inner life” of the main character is revealed.
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I asked myself, did the critic miss the subtitle of the book: Inspired by a true love story? Or, did she think the true story should have been tempered by alternative facts?
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Had the reviewer read the book in it’s entirety, she’d have learned the pace is purposely panicky — and that every line of the first chapter is a thread that connects to the final chapter, where the reader learns how very much was said, indeed.
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As for the kiss? It didn’t happen. Perhaps the reviewer was channeling Katy Perry, or her assumptions interfered with her assessment.
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No matter. In essence, the review (except for the kiss) is accurate.
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3. What do you think was her true intent for writing a review of your book?
Possibly, to dissuade others from reading the book. Because that happens, especially when the topic interferes with the reader’s religious beliefs, or political position.
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Also, consider that there’s a certain popularity contest associated with success, and that those who harbor resentments relish bringing down others via a misplaced abuse of power (the pen being mightiest). But being bias is a double edged nib. Those who like you are just as likely to tip the scales in your favor.
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That’s why I caution authors against either attracting the first, or encouraging the latter. Instead, let honesty prevail.
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Remember: Truth is a blessing. Deceit is a lesson.
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4. Has the critic ever written any other reviews for your genre?
J.G.’s Amazon history indicates she has not.
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5. Did the critic actually read your book?
J.G. readily admits she did not read my book, so the criticism was limited to an opinion of the first chapter which she failed to finish, as evidenced by the ‘kiss’ she inserted that didn’t occur.
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I’M NOT CERTAIN IF ALL AUTHORS take time to track their book sales on Amazon, but I do, and verified the sale of 9 more books the day the J.G. review was published than were sold the prior day.

I think that’s because J.G. drew attention to the Look Inside Amazon offer of IMOGENE’S ELOISE prior to purchase, which apparently resulted in people doing exactly that, ultimately disagreeing with her estimation.
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Ironically, the Look Inside free is exactly why I encourage readers to ‘try before you buy’ in order to prevent buyers remorse.
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ALL OF THIS MAKES MY SUGGESTIONS to writers who ask my advice fairly generic:

(A) Write well.
(B) Create a five year plan to promote each book and be diligent.
(C) Don’t expect everyone to understand, love, or agree with what you write.
(D) Learn from every review, regardless of its merit, or lack thereof.
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FINALLY, DON’T WASTE A MINUTE of your creative energy bemoaning a review you feel is unfair.

Instead, ask yourself if it’s fair that not every woman has the talent, ambition, dreams, perseverance, courage, business acumen, disposition, self-esteem and skill it takes to be a writer? (Hint: No.)
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That alone gives you license to greet each morning by patting yourself on the back — because writing a book is a prodigious accomplishment.
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This is me, standing.

Applauding you.

Brava!

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How do you handle a bad review? What advice do you offer?
I welcome your feedback and encourage you to share this on social media.
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Please add your thoughts here by selecting REPLY.
I’m all eyes and heart.

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SEEING RED

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My mom hated to have her hair touched. It prompted her to enroll in beauty school for the sole purpose of learning the best way to style and care for her own thick, black, naturally curly locks. I still have the leather bound 1930s textbook from her beauty school days that she abandoned upon deciding to coil her hair and pin it atop her head like a crown of glory. It was very attractive, even enviable, and she never fashioned her hair differently from then on until the day she died, decades later, three weeks shy of age ninety-three

     I suppose that’s why it came as no surprise in the summer of 1958 — when I was still eleven with shades of natural auburn and blonde streaking throughout my wispy thin, straight as straw, mostly mousey brown hair — that mom suggested I choose one of the three colors and dye it.

     I chose auburn; Clairol’s Sparkling Sherry to be exact. It perfectly matched my auburn undertones and duplicated the color my older sister, Sue, chose to dye her hair a year earlier. It cost 85¢ for a glass bottle of the dye and another 25¢ for a bottle of peroxide. You mixed them before applying, waited 45 minutes, and then washed the residue out with Halo shampoo before rinsing with diluted Heinz red cider vinegar.

     “The dye coats each strand. It doubles the thickness of your hair,” Mom promised.

     “Do I still use vinegar?” I questioned, even though I already knew it untangled wet hair and kept it glossy.

     “It prevents the color from looking unnatural.”

     That fall I began the seventh grade as a redhead, just as Sue had the year before me. Whenever anyone asked us why our brother, Michael, had black hair we’d confess, “He dyes his.”

     The new school was larger with thousands of students. None of the kids I knew in elementary were in my classes, nor friends of mine in junior high. Consequently, everyone  I met from then and since has known me only as a redhead.

     That includes me.

     Because, even though Clariol has changed the names of their colors, I’ve remained true to those streaks of natural auburn chosen as a child and have never sought to discover the adult dominant color of my hair. Through junior and senior high and college, a stint as a kosher camp drama counselor, New York City careers, a Florida business,  and wherever I traveled or settled on living — once every month I’ve found a place to be alone for an hour for the solitary purpose of denial in dyeing.

     I’m 70 now. I have never let my hair grow out, but if I did, it would be an all-over silver — the same as it is at my temples — which I leave untouched so the age of my face won’t drastically contrast my crown, sporting a hairstyle I haven’t changed in decades.

     I am my mother’s daughter.

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Marguerite Quantaine © 2016
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I’m all eyes and heart.

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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2016
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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her novel, Imogene’s Eloise : Inspired by a true-love story
is available on AMAZON, in paperback and Kindle.
Please choose LOOK INSIDE for a FREE
read of several chapters.

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WHEN BAD REVIEWS HURT GOOD AUTHORS and what can be done to change that

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Imagine you are Meryl Streep sitting in the audience, nominated for a Best Actress Oscar at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes and Mia Farrow’s name is called instead of yours.

It doesn’t matter that a vast majority of the general public and international acting community think — make that know — Meryl Streep is the finest actress to grace a screen since the talkies. And, it doesn’t matter that her performance far outshines that of any other actress on the planet.

She must sit and smile and be grateful just to know that she’s the superior actress, even when saddled with being lesser so, by those who are not as talented, or as accomplished as she.

(And by ‘she’ I mean those of ‘you’ still up there in my opening line, imagining yourself as Meryl Streep.)

The point is, being the best at what you do is never enough to win the acclaim of those around you.

Indeed, the chances are good it will elicit exactly the opposite results, regardless of your profession. Because that’s the nature of awards and winning and — especially for the craft of writing — book reviews.

I say ‘especially’ because book reviews and letters to the editor are the two areas of the media where everyone, regardless of their intent, intelligence, or lack thereof, can participate as an authority.

And, because of this, both (along with the installation of the five star system) have become the weapon of choice for malcontents.

The question we all need to ask ourselves is simple: Am I complicit?

The answer is YES if you:
(1) Write a good review for your friend or relative, simply because she is your friend or relative, not because her/his book is as good as the review you’ve given.
(2) Award a five star rating to a book because it was authored by a friend or relative, not because her/his book is as good as you’ve rated it.
(3) Issue a bad review for a book you haven’t read.
(4) Issue a bad review for a book you haven’t read because you carry a grudge against the author, or you have a friend who carries a grudge.
(5) Award a low star rating for a book you haven’t read.
(6) Award a low star rating for a book you haven’t read because you carry a grudge against the author, or you have a friend who carries a grudge.
(7) Sabotage an author whose publisher is in competition with your publisher.
(8) Sabotage an author for revenge.
(9) Sabotage an author out of jealousy.
(10) Sabotage an author because you can, and that ability gives you power.

About now you’re wondering how this essay became about you instead of those so-in-sos who gave you a bad review.

That’s the thing.

When it comes to writing — just as when it comes to all other areas of life — it is never about what is done to you.

Rather, it is always about what you did to help create an atmosphere where such injustices flourish.

And, by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’, and ‘us’, and ‘we’.

Like every journey, this one takes one step by one person at a time.

It takes resolve.

It takes a decision by each of us to (1) refrain from giving credit where credit isn’t due, and (2) refrain from sabotaging those we don’t like, and (3) choose to learn from those whom we consider to be more talented, more creative, or more accomplished, and (4) mentor all who are receptive, in an effort to improve our craft and our writing community.

It isn’t necessary to like every writer. But we must try to respect every person who makes the effort, takes the time, and risks the rejection that results from writing a book, regardless of its caliber.

And, if we can do that, we will know
our own worth.

And, if we can do that, we will rejoice
in the success of others.

And, if we can do that, we will accept, as a burden,
that there will always be those whose low self-esteem,
jealousy, envy, ego, or anger won’t allow them
any other recourse
but to lash out.

And if we can do that, we’ll realize, as a blessing,
that the next essay, article, story, or book we write
will be better because of it.

And if we can do that, we will each,
we will all, know what it’s like to be
Meryl Streep.

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by Marguerite Quantaine © 2015

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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
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PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK without selecting the Look Inside option

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to determine the caliber of writing and quality of the story.