Tag Archives: Fear of Our Father

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.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Fear of Our Father update

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my newest book, Fear of Our Father—a true story of abuse, murder, and family ties, co-written with Stacey M. Kananen to be published by Berkley Books, April 2013. Maybe it’s time to do that.

Stacey is the survivor of years of heinous abuse at the hands of her father. When her older brother confessed to murdering both parents, he decided to take her down with him and she was arrested and tried for murder. Fear of Our Father tells the harrowing story of how she survived.

The original title was Sink or Swim, but Berkley suggested Fear of Our Father and we saw the wisdom in that title change. It’s a little more gruesome than we had in mind, but it certainly tells the story better than our working title.

Right now, we’re working on rewrites with our editor, gathering author photos and approving the cover design. Once the manuscript has been completely edited, Berkley’s legal team will give it a thorough once-over and then we’re on our way to the actual publishing process.

I never thought of myself as a “true-crime” author, and that’s not how we envisioned the book being published, but that’s the genre that Berkley has chosen for us, and so it is what it is. Many people still think Stacey got away with murder. I know that she is innocent. This book is intended to tell her side of this incredible, mind-bending story.

It seems that the Universe is on her side, because things are going very well for the book. We have a foreword written by Stacey Lannert, and two famous best-selling authors have agreed to write promotional blurbs for us. (I don’t want to name them until that’s a fait accompli.) In addition, the BBC documentary that featured Stacey’s story, America’s Child Death Shame, has been nominated for an Emmy award!

Other huge news is brewing, but we’re not at liberty to discuss it yet, so watch this blog for the big reveal in the next couple months! In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy of the book today, on Amazon.com.