The Emotional Turmoil of Getting Published

What is Success in Writing?

For so many years, the end goal of my writing was to land an agent, sign with a publisher, and have my fully-legitimized book thrust out into the world with the approval stamp of the publishing house on its spine. After that, I imagined myself throwing confetti in the air and basking in the joy of post-publishing glory. In this idealized vision, publication equaled success. I never thought much about what came after publication. For some reason, the reviews that would follow–both good and bad–didn’t factor into my daydream.

Well, fast-forward a few years. I landed (and fired) my agent. I signed a three-book deal with Bookouture, who recently released Two Widows, the first of three stand-alone suspense novels. My second suspense novel, She Lies Alone, is coming out in less than two weeks. These stories–the ones I spent literally years of my life crafting, writing, and revising–are now out there for people to read and review. It’s exciting, yes. It’s also terrifying.

I’m happy to say that Two Widows has been very well-received by the suspense-reading community. Still, like almost every book, it has garnered occasional one and two-star reviews. As much as the reviews praising my book have injected me with a sense of euphoria (especially the ones that say they would give it MORE than five stars if they could!), the mean reviews hurt equally as much. These critical people do not hesitate to share how much they HATED my book. Some negative reviews are easier to disregard–for example, those written in one extremely long run-on sentence with no punctuation and brimming with misspelled words, or those that state incorrect facts, demonstrating that the reader has zero reading comprehension, or those that are hateful toward gay people and offended that my main character reconciles with her gay son and admits she’d been wrong to blindly follow a few bullies in her small town church. As authors, it is difficult to not be able to respond to these. But we can’t.

The advance Netgalley reviews for She Lies Alone are starting to show up on Goodreads. The first three people who read it left FIVE-STAR reviews. Woo-hoo! (I must have really found the pinnacle of success with this second book.) Then a few four star reviews followed. (I’ll take a four-star review any day.) The last five reviews have been 3 stars. (Can you feel my energy deflating?) Reading some of these new comments about my book being “average” and “predictable” feels like something akin to emotional abuse, to someone berating my child in front of me. I went from having a wonderful day to wanting to jump off the nearest bridge. (Did I mention I’m a highly sensitive person?)

Apparently, some readers are disappointed that the cover doesn’t match the story. I’m wondering why these people didn’t bother to read the back cover blurb. Others are disappointed that my book is not a true “thriller.” That’s correct, She Lies Alone is a novel of psychological suspense, just as it says in the subtitle! Maybe you can see why I’m frustrated…

How to Cope

For my fellow writers who are finding the thrill of publication tarnished by negative reviews, here are some things I’ve found that help:

  1. Look up a few of your all-time favorite books on Amazon or Goodreads. See how members of the general population left average and bad reviews the book that you so loved. You know they aren’t right. Now apply the same logic to YOUR book.
  2. Remind yourself (as my editor often reminds me) that no book is going to please everyone. It has literally never been done.
  3. Look for constructive criticism and use it to make your next book better. As much as I hate to say it, when several people are saying the same thing over and over again, there’s a good chance they might be on to something.
  4. Don’t read the reviews. Okay, I had to say it, but no one believes that is going to happen.
  5. Remember why you write. I write because there is a story within me that needs to be told. I write because I enjoy being creative. I write because I’m good at it. This passion of telling mysterious and suspenseful stories is for me, not to please some twenty-two-old woman with a permafrown who lives in a crappy apartment building in the middle of Arkansas and who’s initials are K. M. and who I’ve never met and probably wouldn’t like if I did meet her. (Too specific?)

Don’t Dwell. Keep Writing.

While easier said than done, I’m striving to let negative reviews roll off my back. I’m going to appreciate and gain energy from the positive feedback. My third book has just been sent to my editor to prepare for the line edits, and that is where my focus needs to be, not on books that I’ve already written, re-written, revised, and edited. I’ve already poured my heart and soul into those books and they can’t be changed now. I like my books. Actually, that’s not true. I love my books. And for a writer, maybe that’s the true mark of success.

Book Review – Two Widows by Laura Wolfe @LauraWolfeBooks @bookouture #BookReview #BooksOnTour #suspense

The TWO WIDOWS Book Tour continues. I wish all reviews were written like this one! She had me at “girl power!” 🙂

Shalini's Books & Reviews

Many thanks to publisher Bookouture for my spot on this Blog Tour.

Whoa!! A thriller which transformed into absolute girl power!! Woohoo. My first book by the talented author Laura Wolfe, and you betcha I had fun times with the story. It was wonderful how 3 characters could twist and turn the book on its vertices and leave me so well entrenched in my own theories of what could have happened and where it was headed.

GLORIA the widow who preferred her solitude after her son moved away from her due to a disagreement. Beth, recently bereaved, who rented the field from Gloria for her tiny house. JOE a new lodger with suspicious movements.

The story revolved around them, and the author built up so much of suspense that I could barely let go of my kindle. I was a bundle of excitement. I had to know the secrets buried…

View original post 361 more words

Book Release Day! TWO WIDOWS!

One secret. Nowhere left to hide.

I’ve been waiting for this day for months and can’t believe it’s finally here! My suspense novel, TWO WIDOWS, has been published by Bookouture.

TWO WIDOWS will be on a blog tour through September 2nd on a wide variety of fabulous book review blogs. See the schedule above to check it out!

The eBook version is currently only $.99 from a wide variety of retailers:

The body of an unidentified woman has been found on a local beach in a small town. The police have no suspects.

Gloria is used to solitude. Widowed and still grieving her late husband, she spends her days with only her faded photographs for company. But when a young woman is murdered nearby, Gloria grows anxious. Living alone in an old farmhouse, surrounded by empty woods, there’s no one for miles who would hear her scream.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

An utterly compelling suspense novel that will have you hooked, Two Widows is a gripping thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, The Couple Next Door and The Woman in the Window.

Thanks for celebrating my book release with me! I hope you’ll check out TWO WIDOWS if you love reading dark and twisty suspense…

Escape to Writing

I’ve always used writing as a way to work through things that are bothering me–hypocrisy, rude people, the current state of the world, etc. With the onset of COVID-19, I’ve found writing has offered me another gift–escapism. No matter how claustrophobic or stir crazy I’ve become inside my house, I can sit down at my laptop and disappear into a COVID-free world for a few hours. Through my characters, I can attend summer camp, go to a concert, or cheer along with a raucous crowd at a sporting event. I’m not sure how my fellow writers of contemporary fiction are dealing with the pandemic in their stories, but my books do not mention it. My stories are set in the current day, but without COVID. I like it that way. For my mental health, I need it that way.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

One of my upcoming releases, She Lies Alone, is set in a large high school. I wrote the bulk of the book in 2019. As I’ve been going back and addressing revisions and copy edits, it is strange to read my descriptions of a COVID-free world where teens travel in packs and gather to eat lunch in a crowded cafeteria without a second thought. These revisions come exactly at the time I’m learning my kids will be attending their school 100% virtually in the fall. Reading my manuscript describing a pandemic-free world that is both near and distant is strange, but also refreshing. Oh, how naive I was! But how happy and carefree! It is wonderful to travel to that safe place, if only for a while. (Okay, maybe “safe” isn’t the correct word because I write mysteries and there is bound to be a murder, but you know what I mean.)

I’m finishing up a first draft of another novel involving a girls’ weekend gone murderously wrong. I’ve written the all 70,000+ words during the pandemic, but the pandemic doesn’t exist in my book. I’m not sure I could write about the pandemic while living through it. That would ruin the escape that writing brings to me.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you write contemporary fiction? Do you mention the pandemic in your stories? Tell me why or why not.

Until next time…

Cover Reveal – TWO WIDOWS

It’s Cover Reveal Day!

I’ve had an exciting week in writing. On Tuesday, I released my commercial fiction suspense novel, Top Producer. Today, I get to reveal the fabulous cover of Two Widows, my first suspense novel to be published with Bookouture this August!

So, without further ado…

TWO WIDOWS Cover

Two Widows releases August 27th from Bookouture, but is available for pre-order now on Amazon, iBooks, Google, and Kobo!

From the back cover –

I’d grown desperate for company since the discovery of the dead woman in town…

Gloria lives alone in an old farmhouse surrounded by empty land, miles from the nearest town in northern Michigan. Widowed and grieving her husband, mourning her broken relationship with her estranged son, lonely Gloria searches for answers in self-help books and has only faded photographs and stacks of unpaid bills for company. Her days all look the same.

Then the dead body of an unidentified young woman is found on the beach near Gloria’s house.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

A deeply compelling suspense novel that will have you hooked, this is a gripping thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, The Couple Next Door, and The Woman in the Window.

Thanks for checking it out!

Book Release Day! TOP PRODUCER

laurawolfe138_new_Just in time for Summer Reading!

It’s Release Day for Top Producer, my suspense novel set in the world of Chicago real estate. After reading this book, I promise you’ll never look at your realtor the same!

From the Back Cover:

In the cutthroat world of real estate, only one can rise to the top.

Twenty-four-year-old newbie, Mara, can’t believe her luck when Chicago’s star realtor, Jacqueline Hendersen, hires her as her assistant. But Jacqueline’s polished exterior conceals her crooked moral compass and relentless quest to win the prestigious Top Producer Award. Under Jacqueline’s tutelage, Mara earns enough money to pay for her new condo and her sister’s mounting medical bills as she entangles herself in Jacqueline’s unorthodox methods of creating business.

Mara relies on her increasing success to justify her mentor’s illegal behavior. When a competing realtor ends up dead, Mara fears she will be Jacqueline’s next victim. Backed into a corner by her involvement in Jacqueline’s scandals, Mara faces a high-stakes dilemma. Will she risk everything she has struggled to achieve, or play along in Jacqueline’s murderous game? Because there can only be one Top Producer.

 

The Inspiration for Top Producer

Before I set out to become an author of suspense and mystery novels, I had a few other careers. One of those was as a realtor in downtown Chicago, where I sold condos, houses, and buildings for five years, eventually becoming one of the “top producers” in my company. But when the market crashed in 2008 and I had one baby at home and another on the way, my family and I moved out of the city and I began pursuing my passion for writing.

One day, my husband told me his brilliant premise for a novel:  what if a real estate agent manufactured situations that force people to buy and sell real estate? Think of the reasons people move–job loss, divorce, death, robbery, etc. This was how my villain, Jacqueline Hendersen, was born. I had the real estate know-how to write the book and felt a personal connection to my main character, Mara, whose naivety is squashed by the players in the underbelly of big-city real estate.

Top Producer has been a pet project of mine for several years now. It has undergone numerous rewrites based on feedback I received from editors and critique partners. While it is quite different than the kind of dark psychological suspense novels I’m currently writing for Bookouture, I decided to release Top Producer through my own imprint, Blue Pond Press, so it can have its day in the sun. The early reviews have been extremely positive:

Top Producer Review Graphic

Top Producer is a “larger than life” suspense novel that makes for entertaining summer reading. Please note it contains adult themes and language and is intended for the 18+ crowd. Thanks for checking it out!

View Top Producer on Amazon!

 

Mystery Author Spotlight – Roland Clarke

Introducing May’s Mystery Author, Roland Clarke!

It’s not often I run into other writers of equestrian-themed mysteries. Admittedly, we are a rare breed! So I was delighted to learn of Roland Clarke’s novel, Spiral of Hooves, a mystery set in the world of eventing. Our similarities extend beyond a love of mysteries and horses, though. Like me, Roland also writes about many other subjects. I was intrigued to learn he is a former green activist, a theme which pours over into many of his works. So, I’m excited to feature Roland and his books on my blog today.

Author Bio

P1000002After diverse careers, Roland Clarke was an equestrian journalist and green activist when chronic illness hastened retirement. But he hasn’t stopped exploring rabbit holes and writing – mainly mystery novels and varied shorts. Roland and his wife – both avid gamers – now live in Idaho (USA) with their four fur-babies, although their hearts are in North Wales (UK). Learn more on his WEBSITE.

The Interview

Hi Roland! What attracts you to writing in the mystery genre?

Writing mysteries allows me to explore devious solutions to problems – and challenge my MC…and the reader. I could do that in other genres, and as a teenager, I wrote SF/Fantasy with twists – and red herrings. So, over the decades I have slipped mysteries into other genres I’ve tackled, like my Viking Age alternative history or my post-apocalyptic saga. However, the mystery is always at the core and usually, a crime must be solved or prevented. Also, writing a believable mystery-solving MC with a difference is a challenge – as is creating a motivated antagonist who believes his/her actions are justified.

What subjects do you enjoy writing about the most? 

Beyond the mysteries, I enjoy writing about issues that challenge my characters, who often are struggling with themselves – whether with health or identity. I’ve been interested in history for decades, so that leads me to research rabbit holes like Deaf culture, Special Forces in Afghanistan, PTSD, Viking shipbuilding, or the last Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr. Of course, horses gallop throughout my writing, not surprisingly for an ex-equestrian journalist.

Moreover, environmental issues are a common thread. I was a green activist for many years, and I try to continue spreading the message in my writing. So, genetic modification, organic agriculture, renewable energy, the arms trade, air pollution, and airships feature as key plot elements wherever they fit the story.

Green issues played a central role in Spiral of Hooves, my first published novel and a mystery set against the sports horse world I worked in. A researcher with a traumatic past and a young rider with diabetes unravel a plot to manipulate the breeding of competition horses. From PTSD and diabetes to LGBTQ and Deaf Culture, I’m interested in representing ‘diverse’ characters and human rights issues. This concern preceded my disability.

What are you working on now?

For a number of years, I’ve been working on Snowdon Shadows, a crime series set around Snowdonia in North Wales and featuring Sparkle Anwyl, a queer Welsh policewoman – or Heddlu as the police in Wales are called. Queer as in her mnemonic mind games to resolve crimes and in her lesbian relationship with a fellow officer of color. The original story, Fates Maelstrom, was written in 2012. Set in SW England, it did not feature a detective, but I re-wrote it set in Snowdonia with Sparkle Anwyl assigned as a junior officer on the case. In the novel, which is currently being edited, Sparkle must use memories of old cases to unravel why ex-mercenaries are involved in the illegal trade in horsemeat.

Fates Maelstrom will be Book 2 of the Snowdon Shadows crime series, with two more Books drafted.

Is the setting of your novel based on a real place?

My Snowdon Shadows series is set around Snowdonia in North Wales, where my wife and I lived for a few years before moving to the USA. All the places are real, with a few exceptions like the locality where my MC’s maternal family has farmed for generations – although that is based on typical Welsh farms and villages.

Our hearts are still in North Wales, and in our office, we have a photo canvas of Snowdon my wife took from our home in Harlech. Detective Sparkle Anwyl keeps my memories of Wales alive, especially when I learn more about the area or when ‘driving’ on familiar and unfamiliar roads in Google Maps. I incorporate both places we visited or would have done if we were still there.

Do you have any upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

My short story Feathered Fire is featured in VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost, the fifth Insecure Writers Support Group Anthology, which released on May 5, 2020. I was hesitant about entering last year, having tried three times unsuccessfully – and it was for Middle Grade historical fantasy. However, the writer who created IWSG encouraged me to enter.

From my research rabbit warren, I melded brave Soviet Airwomen in WWII and rich Slavic folklore into a tale the judges liked. A mystery as I was way off my genre. Or was I? Perhaps the young heroine Vasy needed to discover, “Why she had survived?”
You can read more about the tale and its trigger HERE.

719iAAmPL1L

Congratulations on making it into the Anthology, Roland! It sounds like your persistence has paid off. Thank you for being a guest on my blog. 

Thanks, readers, for stopping by and getting to know Roland Clarke. Please check back next month, when I’ll feature another deserving mystery writer.