Saturday, April 9, 2016

On Developing a New Skill Set (+ Chicago)

Scott D Parker

One way or another, we have to get words out of our brains and onto paper. For centuries, this act was simple: paper, pen, and ink. Typewriters made the process faster, and computers made the process cleaner. But unless you are a superhuman typist, chances are good that you can talk faster than you can type. Thus, for some authors, the most efficient way to get your story out of your head is through dictation.

The process of dictating a novel is nothing new. Famously, Earl Stanley Gardner used dictation — through a Dictaphone — to write many of his novels. In a memorable example, he legendarily dictated the first Perry Mason novel in three days. According to Gardner, it took him half a day to come up with the plot and 2 1/2 days to write the novel itself. That, my friends, is efficient.

[If you haven’t guessed, I am dictating this blog post. To date, I have not figured out a way to convert something like “2 1/2 days” to the words. Guess I’ll have to keep working at it.]

Personally I have been using some sort of dictation software’s for about 10 years. I found dictation software — I use nuances Dragon 13 software here on the PC – to be very good for brainstorming sessions. In these sessions, I stand at my corkboard with a stack of notecards and a headset plugged into my PC. I would talk out the story and write down scenes on notecards and pin them to the corkboard. What made this such a good system was that I had a written record of my brainstorming session and all the thought processes that went through to get me to where my story made sense. What also made this process streamlined is the little need for punctuation. As long as I throw in a few periods at the end of sentences and a few commands to tell the machine to make a brand-new paragraph, it’s pretty easy.

Dictating a novel, on the other hand is a different beast entirely. For the book that I’m writing in April — another Western, this time with a series character — I’ve decided that I’m going to use it to practice dictating a novel. I am a pretty fast typist. When I get in the groove, my eyes, my fingers, and my brain are all on the same page and I can fly. The prose comes easy and the word count keeps adding up.

So far with dictating this novel, the word count has definitely slowed down. It’s a short term, learning experience. Once I get into the groove of dictation, I expect the process to be second nature, much like typing a story is now. Plus, this current novel is one I had set aside last year, so I began with 18,000 words. It is a nice psychological benefit to see that number already in five digits.

For the most part, the software and I speak the same language. There is the odd number thing, but that’s just a matter of me learning how to use the software. Having to say the words “open and quote” and “close and quote” for dialogue can be somewhat awkward. The regular punctuations are pretty easy, and they’ve already become second nature.

The most difficult thing so far is the transition from seeing words on the screen to using the images in my head to describe the scene. I hope that makes sense. At this stage, I’m still thinking in words and phrases and that is certainly slowing me down. What I’ve discovered is that this software works best when I speak in complete phrases, so I often have to preplan what I’m going to say and how I’m going to describe the scene before I speak it. In the typing world, I just start typing and it just seems to flow together. I suspect it will get easier as time goes on, but I’m looking forward to that day coming as soon as possible.

The reason I want to develop this skill set is twofold. One, it would just be nice to have a secondary way to get words on the screen and give my hands a rest. I’ve had a few sessions where I have dictated a scene, typed the scene, and then went back to dictation. My hands and fingers certainly like the break, and I liked being able to move forward on story. A side benefit to dictation is that I find myself standing and pacing while I dictate. My headset has a 6 foot cord so I can walk back and forth as I dictate. There has been a couple of times when I dictated an action scene where I mimicked what my character were doing to see how better way to describe. That’s pretty fun. And yesterday, I took the whole setup outside and wrote on my patio.

But I think the number one reason for doing dictation is to speed up my first draft efficiency. From experience, I know that I can write a 60,000-word novel in a month while holding down a day job. Extrapolating that outward, one can imagine the ability to write 8 to 12 books a year. But I would like to be able to be more efficient in that process and I think dictation will be the means to that efficiency. With manual typing, I go right up to the month’s end and bleed over. I like the idea of the dictation process to enable me to reach the 60,000 words in less than thirty days. That’s my goal for 2016 and beyond.

We shall see.

Does anyone else out there dictate their novels or their brainstorming sessions? If so, let me know. I’d like to know some tips for making the process more efficient and streamlined.

CHICAGO (the band)

Last night, FINALLY (!), Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rob Thomas, of Matchbox 20, gave the induction speech. Here's the link.

Two notable quotes:

“Chicago is a kick-ass rock band with horns" [already knew that...for years!]

"If you think Chicago is your mom’s band, then man, I wanna party with your mom."

The speeches by the band members was also very nice and moving. Danny Serephine, founding drummer, returned to the band 25 years after leaving. His speech was...colorful...and spot on. He namedropped the non-founding members' names so that was great. And Terry Kath's daughter was there to represent him. Very great night that was long overdue.


Here is a link to the entire set of speeches by the band.

Danny starts at 10:55. Profane at times, but who the heck cares, right?

Terry Kath’s daughter, Michelle, shows up at 15:03.

Friday, April 8, 2016

AWP Ain't "My Culture"

For most genre writers, AWP (Association of Writing Programs) is a total non-starter. The conference and book fair bring up images of people asking one another if they are poets, and where they got their MFA. And... that isn't totally incorrect.

Last year, the noir panel was scheduled as the absolute dead last panel, at a time where most attendees had left the conference center. They shoved the crime writers deep in the basement level, on the other side of the conference center, telling us (not subtly at all) that we were the outsiders.

It's no surprise that genre writers and presses look at AWP and think "not for us." Or, like some, they get the hotel room and skip the conference, using the long weekend as an excuse to hang out with friends they only see once a year. This isn't "our culture."

Nah, fuck that.

We make the culture.

L-R: Rios de la Luz, Constance Fitzgerald, Gabino Iglesias, and myself.

I go with LitReactor, where I am on the staff. We're running a course on bizarro fiction right now, which is the furthest thing from the capital-L Literary style of fiction I can imagine. The booths at the book fair that stacked up on crime fiction, bizarro, and other kickass genre fiction sold so many books some of them had to close up shop early.

LitReactor, Booked Podcast, and Broken River Books got together Friday night to eat, drink, and get weird with it. It was a great repeat of the year before - the genre folks find each other, find the good parties, and have a fucking good time. It's one time you can guarantee that the city you're in is filled with book related events and book people. 

What's my point?

If AWP ain't your culture, why the fuck aren't you out there MAKING it your culture? They can't shove us in the basement every year. They can't keep us from showing up with smiles on our faces and having a good time in the sea of booths full of people who seem like they sort of want to be somewhere else. They can't stop us from selling more books than the other guys.

If you have to choose between Boucher and AWP, by all means, pick Boucher. But don't shrug off AWP all together - you'll miss too many great parties.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Help a Writer Out

By Alex Segura

Launching a book is stressful. We all know this. I don’t even want to get into how it’s stressful because I’m in the thick of it.

But there's something you can do in situations like these to alleviate the stress. And, if you'll allow me to get a bit New Age-y here, Ill tell you: help another writer. I've found that helping another author is the guaranteed best way to get my mind off whatever's jamming me up in my own head and it puts whatever I'm dealing with in the right perspective.

I try to be mindful of this concept, especially on social media. It’s probably because I do publicity for a living, but I’m always thinking about spreading the word on books or authors. Word of mouth trumps a lot of traditional means of generating “buzz,” because it, well, is buzz.

So, when you’re stressing out about that middling Goodreads review or waiting impatiently for your agent/editor/collaborator to email you back about that Major Thing, take a minute and do a few of these things for another author. I guarantee you’ll feel better.

Leave a review. Did you enjoy their book? Why not cobble together 3-4 sentences and let it be known somewhere? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your blog - whatever. Believe it or not, these things move the needle, and help customers decide if they’re going to shell out cash for someone’s book.

Plug, plug, plug. Let people know you’re reading something and (hopefully) enjoying it. I usually mention a book a few times if I’m liking it. Sometimes, it even starts a discussion with people who feel the same way. It gets the social media conversation going, and that helps the author. It could be something as simple as posting a photo of a book you just bought or taking part in #fridayreads - anything that mentions an author you’re a fan of helps.

Be a reader. Publicity is part of any book launch. You’ll have to do interviews, guest blogs, live-tweets, AMAs, you name it. But if given the opportunity, you can diverge from your default answers and tip your hat to authors you admire or books you’re immersed in. All writers (well, all good ones) are readers - and they’ll appreciate you mentioning their work. Plus, it might turn a few new people onto their books.

Team up. Solo events can be a little daunting. They’re an important part of the promotional process, but every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to pool your fans with a fellow writer and do a joint event. This way, you not only open yourself up to potentially new fans, but also return the favor. Noir at the Bars are a good, multi-author example of this, as are panels at conventions. But it can also just be a two-author event at a bookstore. Anything to help cross-pollinate.

This isn’t meant to sound like a concentrated plan. You should do this stuff naturally and if the mood strikes. You don’t want it to seem forced. Be honest - talk about the books you like, the books that inspired you to do what you do as a writer and the books you want to read. Getting people chatting about books is never a bad thing, and if it gets your mind off your own book stress, all the better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Guest Post by Eric Beetner

Holly's note: I'm proud to be a part UNLOADED (Down & Out Books) and thankful to editor Eric Beetner for asking me to contribute. I'll be writing a post about the origins of my own story, "Peep Show," next week, but this week I wanted to give Eric a chance to tell us about the origins of the anthology itself. UNLOADED is available for pre-order now and officially drops April 18.

I first got the crazy idea for an anthology of crime stories without any guns back in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting. I was outraged, as many Americans were, by both the inexplicable violence and also by the circling of the wagons by the NRA and other pro-gun groups to immediately make it about them and their rights to gun ownership. The idea that maybe this nut case shouldn’t have had such easy access to the weapons he used was a non-starter.

I put aside the idea, thinking that it wouldn’t make any difference to make a book and by consequence, make a statement. Then there were more shootings – at movie theaters, military bases, workplaces, shopping malls. And I realized that the argument against even doing something small played right into their hands. The argument I so vociferously disagreed with was the same argument I was telling myself. If it doesn’t stop all violence, then why bother at all? I wanted to bother.

Violence has always been with us. Gun violence has been around since the invention of the firearm. It won’t stop. I know that. Our little book won’t stop it, won’t move the dial in Washington, most likely. But to do nothing just wasn’t tenable any more.

And I noticed that other writers felt the same way. And we all felt helpless. We’d rant on Twitter, post links on Facebook. I felt we needed to do more. UNLOADED was born.

Two important things:

1) I don’t want to take away all your guns. I believe strongly in limits, in more rigorous background checks, in closing loopholes, in making guns harder to use for anyone not the owner, for more training, and for restrictions on guns clearly manufactured for military use.

2) I know a collection of short stories without any guns in them is a small gesture.

The thing is, myself and the other writers included in Unloaded began to worry that we were a part of the problem. That we glorified guns in our writing. That we added to a culture obsessed with guns. We wanted to speak out and say we know the difference between fantasy and reality, and we want reality to look a little less like the violence-filled fantasies in our stories.

The writers I reached out to came on board the project enthusiastically and without hesitation. We represent gun owners and non-owners, Democrats and Republicans. We represent the overwhelming majority of Americans who feel that some greater level of gun control is needed and that the mass shootings that occur far too regularly are a product, yes, of mental illness, but also of a culture that accepts guns and gun violence as a cost of our freedom. And we feel that our current gun culture is not anywhere near what the founders intended – a direct repudiation of the NRA position that the home stockpiles of weapons and the ease by which we can get guns would make the founders proud somehow.

We want to reduce the amount of suicides by gun, the amount of tragic accidents by guns, the amount of deaths of children by guns.

And we used the greatest weapon at our disposal – our words.

This collection is intended to thrill and excite. My intention was always for the readers not to even notice the absence of guns, and maybe in some small way, to open a dialogue that if we tried to reduce the prevalence of guns in our everyday life the way we have all done in our fiction, even for a brief time, then maybe we could see another way.

And though I know it’s small, the old arguments ring hollow to me now. Because if we can save even one tragic accident, one mass shooting, one disgruntled ex-employee, one suicidal teen…then one is enough. Even saving one is better than staying silent, because staying silent is the same as seeing someone load a gun and saying nothing.

We’ll all continue to write about guns, we’ll all continue to wonder about our own roles in the gun culture in America. But at least now we are on record and we’ve tried to inspire a rational, reasoned and civil conversation.

Unloaded is out April 18th and it contains original stories, and two reprints, from some of today’s top crime and mystery writers. All writers donated their stories and all profits will go to benefit the non-profit States United To Prevent Gun Violence (

The writers include: Joe R. Lansdale, Reed Farrel Coleman, Joyce Carol Oates, Grant Jerkins, Hilary Davidson, Keith Rawson, Rob Hart, Kelli Stanley, Alison Gaylin, Alec Cizak, Joe Clifford, Ryan Sayles, Angel Colon, Kent Gowran, Tom Pitts, Tim O’Mara, Thomas Pluck, Holly West, Trey R. Barker, Jeffery Hess, S.W. Lauden, J.L. Abramo, Patricia Abbott, Paul J. Garth and Eric Beetner.

The ebook is up for preorders on Amazon and eagle-eyed readers may notice the print version is already available early.


Eric Beetner is the author of more than a dozen novels including RUMRUNNERS, THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME, DIG TWO GRAVES, WHITE HOT PISTOL and THE YEAR I DIED SEVEN TIMES. He is co-author (with JB Kohl) of ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD, BORROWED TROUBLE and OVER THEIR HEADS and co-wrote THE BACKLIST with author Frank Zafiro. He lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts the Noir At The Bar reading series. For more visit

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Unpleasant. But Now I Have a Story Idea.

by Scott Adlerberg

It's funny the way ideas come together in your head to help you a craft a plot for a novel.  You may have a striking image or situation in your head, but you can't seem to build on it, or link it to anything, to make that image or situation grow.  You have the beginning of something but you can't construct a story to your satisfaction. I'm an outliner, pure and simple, not someone who wings it as I go along, so I may sit on an idea for years, decades, before I start working on it in an actual book. I don't think there's anything unusual about this, and I'm only bringing it up now because I had a moment this weekend, wonderful moment, where something happened to give me a clue about to how to flesh out an idea I've had in my mind a long time.

Actually, the moment this weekend wasn't wonderful. And the scene I've been turning over for years is not something imaginary but something I experienced.  In late 1994, I went on a three month trip to Egypt with a friend, and for about 10 days, this friend and I stayed in the oasis town of Siwa.  A fascinating place, Siwa; it's dead smack in the Egyptian desert, isolated from everything, about 30 miles east of the Libyan border.  It's a spread out place, about 50 miles in length by 20 miles wide, and has over 20,000 people living there.  Arabic is taught in school, of course, but over the centuries the Siwans have also developed their own language - Siwi.

Siwa has a history dating back to ancient Egypt, and during Greek times, Alexander visited it, making a trek across the desert to visit a famous oracle there.  Siwans are Berber people so they don't have much in common culturally with the rest of Egypt, and until well in the 20th Century, when Cairo finally exerted control over it, Siwa existed as a kind of semi-autonomous place.  The Italian army occupied the oasis for a stretch during World War II, as did the British army, and Rommel's Afrika Korps took the oasis town three times.  It's said that German soldiers skinny dipped in the lake of the oracle and that Rommel sipped tea with Siwan chiefs.  Last point, just to help explain how unusual the place has been: in a part of the world not exactly known for tolerance of homosexuality, Siwa historically had a tradition of open and accepted male homosexuality.  This tolerance extended to same sex marriage (again, from what I've read, between men only), though these practices have been, in the contemporary era, repressed.

So my friend and I visited Siwa, and during our stay, I took notes.  With its physical beauty, peculiar history, and distinct customs, how could I not see Siwa as a possible setting for a story?  It has atmosphere in spades, and its isolation only makes it seem that much more ideal for a murder mystery.  Besides all that, my friend and I had a discomfiting experience one afternoon there, just one during an otherwise great visit.  I use the word "discomfiting" because while the incident wasn't life threatening and didn't make us want to leave Siwa or go to the police, it made its mark on our psyches. It was the sort of incident that with a tiny bit of embellishment could be turned into something nightmarish in a story. Perfect, in fact, as story fodder. For a minimal amount of discomfort, you get a terrific idea. My problem was, I couldn't figure out how to build on that idea to create the rest of my Siwan novel.  Not that the novel, after all these years, has to be set in the actual town of Siwa, which must have changed a lot since I went. But I can work around that.  I have an oasis setting to work with, the idea of a couple in this setting, and stuff that happens to them there.  I just could not figure out....

Until this weekend.  That's when my wife and I got into an argument about something.  I don't even remember, at this point, what the argument was about (something inane, no doubt), but after it ended, an idea popped into my head revealing how exactly I can use that unsettling Siwan incident in a book.  I saw how I can develop the incident. Construct a plot around it.  Thanks to something my brain latched on to during that argument, I now have a broad outline for a book I was starting to think I'd never be able to write.

So thank you, argument.  Or I guess I should say thank you to my wife because she's the one I argued with.  And thank you to the man years ago in Siwa who put my friend and I in an uncomfortable position.  Without that one incident, I would merely have had an enjoyable time in Siwa, one I'll never forget, but would I have left there with a story idea?

From chaos, the possibility of creation.  From unpleasantness, strong material. What can I say? That's just how it often works.

Monday, April 4, 2016

No Guts, No Glory

How one popular show has let viewers down this season, while an underrated show has one of the best writing teams for a show today, and what these shows have taught me about writing.

It is true that each genre has its own requirements. The cops can't solve the central crime on page 50 of a novel. If the presumed couple in a romance got together in the first chapter what would the rest of the book be about?

And there's no denying that suspense requires, well, suspense. Things have to keep building up to the climax, often without relief as the story progresses.

However, I've started to develop an annoyance with stories that continue to delay events and push them further and further back, teasing the audience with minimal progress, for the purpose of creating cliffhangers. It's one thing if a cliffhanger flows organically from the events, but when a whole lot of not much happens on the way to a major revelation cliffhanger it gets frustrating.

As I draft this, I'm anticipating the season finale of The Walking Dead, and I'm ready to question if the show has lost its balls this season.

Article after article after article hints that the finale is going to withhold Negan's infamous introductory slaughter of one of Rick's group and make us wait until October to find out who Negan kills.

Remember the days when no core character was truly safe? From season one through season five, even regular cast members met their end with regularity. Season one we lost Ed, Amy, Jim, Vi and Jacqui. Season two deaths included Sophia, Dale and Shane. Season three T-Dog, Lori, Merle and Andrea all bid adieu. In season four we lost Karen and David, Herschel, The Governor, Mika and Lizzie. The major death (Herschel) was mid-season and the loss of Mika and Lizzie in episode 14 was more than enough to carry the shock through to the next season.

In season five we lost Bob, Beth and then Tyreese. And, although his time on the show was short, the shocking death of Noah was a loss that was keenly felt. In fact, it made one of our teenagers swear off the show because they were upset. They did get over it, and did watch again.

But that teenager quit the show this season because they found it boring.

Boring. The Walking Dead. Boring

The thing is, I get it. The dilemma of putting the group in a presumed safe environment can limit the opportunities for the type of action and perpetual discovery/encounter of others that works when a group is in motion. The second half of season four saw the group split up and all in motion, and the result was that they all encountered different groups and threats and the tension was a natural byproduct of their vulnerability.

Since the group has been at Alexandria, Noah is the only non-original-Alexandrian who has died and we haven't lost a starring cast member since Tyreese died over a year ago.

Is it realistic because the walls do offer them a safety they didn't enjoy when on the road? Or is it that the show is unwilling to sacrifice core characters and has substituted secondary deaths to try to maintain a sense of loss?

This season we've lived through the uncertainty of Glenn's demise. Three full, long episodes - with the actor's name removed from the credits - passed before Glenn's fate was revealed.

And a lot of people were pissed.

Now, as I draft this, I'm facing the speculation. I might have to amend my thinking slightly if the speculation isn't correct, but read after read suggests we'll endure 80 minutes of the extended finale before Negan makes his debut, only to be left waiting until the fall to find out who Negan kills. And I admit if that happens, I'll be pissed.

It's felt like a season of waiting. The quarry walker thing felt contrived. Why they didn't toss balloons filled with gas into the pit and then drop a molotov cocktail in there? They had balloons. They had gas and were willing to spend it driving vehicles for miles and miles. And they've established that walkers are attracted to fire. Why leave the walkers "alive" and just lure them away? To create a false scenario and threat that would temporarily separate a few groups from the community to fill the time before we met the Hilltop and the Saviors.

I'm all for character development. I listed the deaths of Karen and David because the significance was elevated by the impact those events had on Carol and Tyreese, and it pays off with one of the most poignant scenes of the entire series.

And I'm fine with slower episodes that build towards events organically. What gets annoying is when it feels like the writer(s) are holding back events for shock value or for the sake extending a story or series unnecessarily.

The Walking Dead has so much source material to work from that it has no need to stall, but this season has felt that way at times. I'm one who's willing to view the success as a whole and overlook some missteps if the overall season delivers, but whether this season succeeds or fails hinges on whether or not the finale delivers, and with an extended episode length there's no reason for the show to pull punches and make viewers wait to find out who Negan kills.

And dear God, if it's Glenn, after the events with the dumpster...

I'm convinced the show will lose viewers if they withhold the death until the fall, and the fact that ratings have dropped this season supports my belief that the audience - whether we're discussing viewers or readers - doesn't want to feel like it's being manipulated or played with.

By comparison, The 100 has swung for the fences since season one. What can be more ballsy than a show where at the start, even the most minor crimes are punished by death? A teenager caught for any offense would be held until they turned 18 and then floated - released into space. 97 years after the earth was destroyed in a nuclear war, with the demise of the station as resources such as air were in short supply, a group of delinquent teenagers waiting for execution were the first sent to Earth to see if they could survive. And by the end of the first episode some of those kids are dead while another is speared through the chest as they face the horrible reality that they are not alone on the planet.

The group's leader has an impressive kill count. Number 303 shows Clarke killing her lover, Finn, out of necessity. And shocking as it was for Clarke to kill the residents of Mount Weather, these were the people who were capturing Grounders, draining their blood and killing them.

And the show never left people hanging until the next season for that payoff. They delivered in the season finale and still left you wondering for 6+ months whether Clarke would return to Arkadia and how Skaikru would get along with the the Grounders after their alliance had crumbled.

In the last two episodes of The 100 three long-term characters have died. Fans have revolted over the death of Fear The Walking Dead's Alycia Debnam-Carey's popular Lexa. However, Lexa is Clarke's second lover to die within 2.5 seasons and it's been a long time coming. As much as I liked her I knew that her loyalty to Clarke was a reason that her death was inevitable this season in order to change the dynamics between Skaikru and the Grounders. The truth is, with Pike's rise to power, Skaikru is on the verge of a civil war.

Two weeks ago we were left hanging as Kane was sentenced to death and the 100 returned with not one, but two significant deaths in one episode. And there weren't any punches pulled as a character fro season one who has been a fan favorite died to save his own people.

Death isn't always necessary but when a show has developed a history of death and character loss from season one shying away from significant losses later undermines the tone of the show. Suspense and uncertainty aren't the only ways to engage and retain an audience. I've discovered that I like a work to move at a steady pace instead of dragging out events. It's possible to have the end product be even more effective by landing the punch instead of pulling it for delayed effect.

Consider the criticism of movie series that have split their finales into two movies and how that's resulted in declining box office revenues and negative reviews. I finally watched Mockingjay part 2 and  I believe it weakened the series overall.

What it's taught me as a writer is to push the plot to deliver more instead of padding out a weak plot. A shorter, stronger series is always better than a prolonged series that thinned out the plot so much that the story dragged.

I'm still a Walking Dead fan, but I really hope they don't test the patience of fans to the point that the term walkers starts referring to people who've quit watching the show because it's treading water instead of delivering the kind of solid, intense story lines it's capable of.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Having a thick skin

by Kristi Belcamino

If you want to survive in this writerly bookish business, one of the best things to do (besides being stubborn as hell) is to develop a thick skin regarding what other people think about your books.

I was very lucky that a career spent in newspaper reporting prepared me for people saying, well, let's face it, awful things at times.

But you might be a tad more sensitive than me.

Here's why you should develop a thick skin from the beginning:

By not being so attached to your words and by realizing they are not precious, you are more open to hearing what someone else says to improve your book and your writing. This is SO IMPORTANT.

I have an amazing writer's group. It is very rare that I send anything out into the world without this group of people taking a look at it first. In addition, I also have a few very trusted readers who will give me feedback when I ask.

For instance, in the fifth book in my series, I'm taking a different approach. Instead of first person present tense, I'm writing it third person. I sent the first chapter to select members of my street team to weigh in on it. I don't want to piss off or alienate all my readers by switching things up this far into the game. But the feedback was great. Everyone liked it, so I'm moving forward in that direction.

But back to having a thick skin. You need a thick skin throughout the publishing process because it will help you deal with:

* Feedback on your rough draft from early readers
* Criticism from agents
* Rejection from editors considering the book for publication
* Reviews from readers and critics

See, it never ends.

You can *attempt* to avoid this by not reading reviews. Good luck with that. I've never been able to avoid reading my reviews. But one thing to keep in mind throughout the entire process is this general rule of thumb that begins when you first seek feedback on a rough draft:

If three or more people say something, I pay attention.
If two or more people say something and it seems to make a little bit of sense, I pay attention.
If one person says something and it resonates with me, I pay attention.

You can apply this to reviews as well.

I found it absolutely fascinating that when editors rejected my first book, two different editors would give completely opposite opinions.

For instance, maybe one would say my dialogue was unrealistic while the other editor said my dialogue was extremely authentic.

Hearing comments like that make it easier to swallow rejection. Everybody has a different opinion and that's okay.

However, if three editors had come back saying they thought my dialogue was unrealistic, you bet I would've gone back and taken a look at my dialogue!

In reviews of my four books, people have different takes on Gabriella's go-for-it, fearless personality:

Some people call her dumb. Others call her brave. It just depends on your perspective.

Last week for Throwback Thursday I posted a picture of  myself in the cockpit of an FA/18 fighter jet as we took off from an airport in Monterey. To my surprise, several people wrote I was brave and that they'd be afraid to fly with the Blue Angels.

I can honestly say I was surprised. To me, flying in a jet was not "brave." It was exhilarating and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I was never afraid so it was not brave to do so - in my opinion.

See, that's the take away, we all have different opinions. Realizing that helps you to have a thick skin and not take all criticism personally. Sure, there are going to be comments that really sting or deflate you for a little bit, but let them go.

Not everybody is going to like your writing or your book and that's okay.