Think twice before leaving a bad review

hurt feelings cat

When one exposes one’s “art” to the general public, one takes the chance that some of the public won’t like said art. In fact, some of them will be loud about it … and mean.

I’ve heard artists from all mediums say they don’t read their reviews, for this very reason—some people are needlessly cruel. They’re not leaving constructive criticism, they’re just trying to tear the artist down so they can feel superior.

I try not to read my reviews but, once in a while, some scary part of myself drags me to my Amazon page and forces me to read what strangers are saying about my books.

hurt feelings

I’d like to be cavalier about it but, as a matter of fact, your words did hurt.

Most of the time, the reviews are friendly and glowing, but once in a while, someone posts a review that really hurts.

Those seem to be written by other writers, or by people who fancy themselves to be. They generally bash my writing style, implying that they coulda woulda shoulda done a better job. I don’t know if they’re professional writers, because they never say. However, I’d like to think that the pros don’t leave bad reviews for their peers, because they know better. They know how it feels to get bashed for their hard work.

My wide-eyed wanna-be” theory brings small comfort, however, when I see how much thought and effort some of them have put into their well-written criticism. They felt so strongly that they went out of their way to publicly trash me. (Should I be flattered?)

I’m addressing one particular review of Fear of Our Father, a book which has received over 100 reviews on Amazon—75 percent of which give a four- or five-star rating (mostly five-star :-D). It’s still on bookstore shelves almost three years after publication, and has had a few TV shows based on the story. So it must not suck that badly.

hurt feelings dwight

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that 75 percent of the reviewers have wretched taste. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be more helpful to offer useful suggestions on how to improve next time, instead of being nasty about something that cannot be changed? Or are these reviewers actually more interested in sharpening their pithiness on my back?

Plus, how about a little credit for what I did accomplish? I wrote a book that hit #1 on Amazon’s True Crime list. Do you know how hard it is to do that? Only frustrated writers who want to take the piss would try to make another writer feel bad about their accomplishments.

I’m specifically talking about a review that said my co-author, Stacey M. Kananen, should have hired a ghostwriter, instead of letting a friend write the incredible story of how she was unjustly accused of and tried for murdering her parents. (Her story is similar, in some ways, to that of Steven Avery in Making a Murderer.) Fear of Our Father could have been so much better, the reviewer implies, if only a more capable writer had been assigned to the task. (Isn’t that the case with every book?)

For the record, I’m not just some random friend of Stacey’s who thought, “Hey, I’ve got a computer and I took an English class once. Why not try my hand at writing a book?” I’ve earned more than a few impressive writing credits. And, yes, of course it would have been a better book if I wrote it later in life, with more experience and maturity. However, Fear of Our Father dropped into my life exactly when it was supposed to.

I “just happened” to move to Gulf Coast Nudist Resort right before Stacey and Susan did. I “just happened” to work with her and Susan in the resort’s office. I “just happened” to witness the story leading up to Stacey’s murder trial (which aired on national television) as it unfolded.

hurt feelings proud

And, I “just happened” to be a professional writer, with an award-winning background with MSNBC News, and three previous (albeit self-published, but well-reviewed) books under my belt.

This story fell into my life as an assignment from the Gods, and I took it that seriously. Someone needed to be there to witness and tell Stacey’s story, and who better than an objectively-trained, supportive friend, who “just happens” to be a professional writer?

I watched the tale unfold over the course of seven years. That’s how I know the subject matter well enough to properly tell it. I am Stacey’s friend and she is mine. She trusted me enough to confide horrifically intimate details, knowing that I would tell it like it is, while displaying respect and compassion for her entire family—even those who turned against her. A stranger would have never been able to do justice to their story. And, if the Gods had wanted a “more capable” writer for the task, they would have assigned one.

Of course it’s not my greatest, all-time writing achievement, because I’m not dead yet, but it’s my best so far. Artists—or, for that matter, all beings—are constantly striving to improve. Does it really help to be nasty when pointing out the flaws in someone else’s honest creative work?

mirror girl

I’m not saying I’ve never done the same—after all, the Internet’s offer of anonymity is seductive—but I haven’t done it since I became a grownup. All it accomplishes, really, is to point out who the critic is actually talking to. —>

In closing, here’s you some dogs, to illustrate how it feels when someone tries to tear you down, instead of offering helpful, uplifting, constructive criticism. (In other words, I’ll continue to strive to become a better writer in spite of your words, not because of them.)

snarly dogs

lisa author shotLisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her.

Why I love being an editor

red pen2A Hollywood legend says that Fred Astaire’s first screen test led to this critique: “Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” I remember this when I think about my career as a professional writer–it’s all just a matter of the right people seeing your work. And that’s how I feel about being an editor/manuscript doctor for other writers–just because your book might need work, that doesn’t mean it can’t eventually shine!

fred astaireLet’s assume you’ve just spent weeks (if you participated in NaNoWriMo), months or maybe even years to finally complete your book. Now, you want to get it out there, to agents and publishers, as quickly as possible. But you know it needs some more work.

Problem is, you’re tired of looking at the damned thing. You can’t keep track of what your characters have done or should do. It’s too big. You have continuity issues and some scenes feel flat. You need a fresh pair of eyes.

snoopy dark and stormy nightAsking friends and family is one idea, but you can’t always expect complete honesty from them–they don’t want to hurt your feelings if (when) they have to tell you that your book isn’t yet perfect. Plus, you may be putting them in a tough position. This is a lot of time and effort to invest, as a favor. And, most importantly, they probably don’t know what an editor looks for.

That’s what I do for you. I’m a professional, fresh pair of eyes. I recognize when “show, don’t tell” becomes an issue. I notice when a character or dialog is unrealistic or underdeveloped. I can see when you were rushing a scene to get it over with, so you could get on to the next one.

Why else you need a pro:


Image source: my actual desktop

It takes a lot of time and focused concentration to read your work-in-progress. It’s unpolished and, frankly, sometimes hard to understand. The writer has left out important details and some of the sentences are clumsy. Some of the prose is too dense.

This is not a judgment–it’s simply the nature of the beast. We all do it.

Meantime, it’s also the editor’s job to pay careful attention to the plot and continuity, to learn your characters and watch for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Your manuscript’s issues take up space in the professional editor’s mental cloud and receive front burner attention, just like when you were writing it.

Why I love being an editor:

I love being an editor because I am really good at helping other writers get through this frustrating aspect of creating a solid manuscript. It helps both of us to become better writers, because we learn from one another.

rosieI love to encourage my clients to reach higher and keep getting better at their craft. It takes a lot of guts to actually finish writing a book. Only someone who has accomplished this feat can understand what it means, and how difficult it can be to ask for help, without knowing what kind of cruel critique we may receive in return.

I know how hard writers can be on themselves and that they sometimes need a little hand-holding. Being a writer is one of the most absurd, yet rewarding things one can do. And sometimes we need a little help from a professional friend.

How to hire me:

I work through a company called Book Marketing International. The advantage to hiring me through BMI, as opposed to direct freelance, is that your manuscript will pass through the hands of Linda Langton, a successful NY literary agent.

Because Linda knows what publishers are looking for (they want publication-ready submissions, these days), she can tell you exactly how much work your manuscript needs. The bonus is, if your book is good, she’ll help you to get it sold.

Tell her Lisa Bonnice sent you. 😉



lisa author shot

Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her.


How I got over myself and learned to love River Song

River Song is coming back to Doctor Who for the Christmas special this month and I’m over-the-moon ecstatic to see her again! I’ll admit, however, that I hated her when she first showed up in the Library and claimed to be married to the Tenth Doctor.

Nuh uh. If anyone’s gonna marry the Doctor (especially David Tennant), it’s gonna be me! (Yes, I’m in my fifties, but I can still squee like a fangirl).

river i hate you

So, yeah, it took me a while to warm up to her. I think the first time I felt a glimmer of respect was when she marched down the corridor of a space ship in those incredible shoes, the kind in which I’d surely break an ankle.

river shoes

Even so, I still resented her. I mean, she was not a standard beauty. She was older and didn’t fit into the normal mold of leading ladies. And she was kind of pushy. Who did she think she was?

And that’s when I had my “Aha!” moment.

I hated her because she represented everything that the patriarchal aspects of society had trained me to loathe about myself, as a woman. And here she was, spitting in the face of convention!

Think about it. River Song was the ultimate bad ass witch. She was:

river regen

  • Insanely sure of herself
  • Full bodied and rippling with power
  • Beyond intelligent—as clever as the Doctor
  • Fiercely loving and compassionate
  • Courageous
  • Oozing with sexuality
  • The Doctor’s equal

So why on earth did I hate her? Because she reminded me of everything that I could have been but chose, out of fear, not to be.

Now, why do I love her? Because she reminds me that it’s never too late to choose again.

river kiss


lisa author shotLisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her.

Here’s you a blog, about my blog, “Here’s you a blog”.

wheres me a dog
Imagine my surprise when I saw this blog about my blog!

WordPress notified me about a huge jump in my blog stats today–it seems one of them has gone viral. Well, germy anyway. My stats are usually pretty decent, considering I mostly write goofy stuff for myself and don’t promote my blog much. I have a small, undefinable niche following. So I was surprised to see a huge uptick.

Someone at Atlas Obscura wrote a blog about the title I’ve given my blogsite, Here’s You a Blog. That blog is titled: Where’s Me a Dog? Here’s You a Dog: The South’s Most Unusual Regionalism. The writer, Sarah Laskow, writes fun and quirky articles (click on her name to see a list, but make sure you have some time, because it’s a treasure trove of great stuff!).

Sarah’s blog about my blog tells how Larry Horn, one of the founders of the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project discovered the “here’s you a…” phenomenon because I wrote about it. Her blog says:

This discovery began with a blog titled “Here’s you a blog,” which Larry Horn, one of the project’s founders, had come across. This blogger had first come across this grammatical quirk–”here’s you a…”–while traveling in Kentucky: a post office clerk had handed over a stamp featuring a dog, and said, “Here’s you a dog.” The phrase delighted the blogger, and she started using it to label pictures of dogs, until she realized she could apply it to other nouns–like her blog.

How fun is that? Sarah writes about some fascinating stuff, and now I’m one of them! I can’t help feeling, though, like I’m in a house of mirrors. Here’s you a blog, about a blog, about my blog, “Here’s you a blog!”

fierce dog

Oh yeah. Here’s you a ferocious dog who tries desperately to lunge through that fence and tear me into tiny shreds, every time I pass by on my morning walk. It doesn’t help that I say things like “Oh, wook at da kyoot widdo doggie!” That only pisses it off more.

Book review: Developing Psychic Abilities by Apryl J. Douglas

Developing Psychic Abilities

Full Disclosure: I know Apryl. I used to work for her at Vision Quest Metaphysical Bookstore, in Phoenix, Arizona. So, my review may be slightly biased but, honestly, if I didn’t believe that this book is worth recommending, I wouldn’t have written the review (in the vein of “If you can’t say something nice…”).

Apryl DouglasThe title, Developing Psychic Abilities, downplays the strengths of this book. Yes, there are plenty of suggestions as to how to develop your abilities, if you’re new to the game. But Apryl also includes a lot of tips and tricks that go far beyond the basics.

This book teaches about astral projection, using a pendulum, candle magic, aura cleansing, automatic writing, psychic protection and much more.

Her book is written in plain language–that is, it’s not full of complex explanations or woo-woo jargon. She also includes a section in the back where you can write notes with your results. Yes, I recommend this book!

Apryl, herself, has been aware of her psychic abilities most of her life–they surfaced when she was 13. She has owned Vision Quest since 1986. Back then, she was in the Los Angeles area and her store was one of the best. I used to shop there, when I lived in LA, but she and I never met at the time. Small world, that I should end up working for her, once her store and I both moved to Phoenix.

She is available for psychic readings, by phone or at her store, most Saturdays. You can call 480-949-1888 to schedule a reading. If Saturdays don’t work for you, her store staffs several other very talented readers and healers, seven days a week. Check out the store’s website for reader bios and schedules.

Lisa Bonnice is the best-selling, award-winning author of five books, including Shape Shifting–reclaiming YOUR perfect body, the True Crime Bestseller Fear of Our Father (with Stacey M. Kananen)  and the metaphysical-comedy novel, Be Careful What You Witch For!

Best seller—Fear of Our Father—#1 True Crime
eLit Silver Award—The Menhattan Project—Humor
Includes foreword by Neale Donald Walsch—Shape Shifting
Two Excellence Awards—

A friend is on Fox and Friends!

Peter and Alejandra

How fun! I just found out from Victoria Flores–my co-author on The Menhattan Project–that her husband, Peter Argue, is going to be on Fox and Friends this Sunday at 8:30am for a fun Fathers Day special on conquering the “Dad Bod”, with their adorable baby daughter. Check it out!

If you’re interested, I wrote a blog about Peter when the book first came out (he’s a professional model and one of the main characters was loosely based on him):

FOLLOW UP: Here is the link to Peter’s appearance on Fox and Friends. Peter is the one on the far left.

You know you’re old when …

Lola Garnett, from Be Careful What You Witch For! shares words of wisdom.

Lola Garnett, from Be Careful What You Witch For!, shares words of wisdom.