Jennifer Lyon
Friday, January 22nd, 2021
Friday Five

TGIF! It’s been another week that feels long and short at the same time. Let’s jump into sharing five random things about our week.

  1. This week, I was in the kitchen doing something, when I realized I heard Eli and Savi talking. Obviously this was in my head, but it was the clearest I’ve heard character voices since my tinnitus started a few years ago. That was a high.
  2. The low has been trying to make the scenes work. The dialogue is okay, it’s everything else like world building that has to be right. I looked like this yesterday afternoon :-)
  3. Maggie has been telling me for a week there was something in our hill. The other day, she found it. It was hilarious to watch her stalk, pounce, and bury her head up to her neck in the ground cover trying to get this thing. I hoped it wasn’t a snake. It wasn’t–it was a rat. Ugh. Maggie flushed it out and chased it away. We’re at the base of the Cleveland National Forest so we get critters.
  4. We might have some rain in the forecast and we need it.
  5. I take Maggie on two walks most days, but otherwise, I’m in the house too much. I really need to get out and see more people. As it turns out, I’m not all hermit and I miss being with people. I really miss seeing other writers too. I’m probably not alone feeling like this.

That’s my five, now I’d love to hear yours! Hope everyone has a:

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021
Do Bad Reviews Have Value?

When my debut book DATING CAN BE MURDER came out, the publication Kirkus reviewed it. If you want to see my first lesson in humility as an author, go read it here. I was crushed. I’d struggled for eight long years and had collected countless rejections on several manuscripts to get that very first contract, then waited yet another year to see it in print. I’d poured my heart and meager skills into that book, and someone was…gasp…mean.

Welcome to life as an author and artist. The reality is this: While we’re writing and polishing the book, it’s ours to love and protect. But the instant we publish it, our book changes from being our “beloved passion project” into a “product” for the consumer to judge.  It takes time and practice to learn how to handle this. But here’s some of my thoughts that I hope will help:

A few bad reviews won’t destroy your sales or career.  My print run of DATING CAN BE MURDER sold out, the publisher did a second print run and the series continued until the publisher moved me into romance. By allowing that Kirkus review to upset me for an entire day, I gave it much more weight than it deserved.

Reviews are important but they are for readers not the author: Reviews really help books get noticed, but the actual reviews are meant to give readers an idea if the book is for them. Bad reviews tend to highlight “triggers” for readers. Maybe they are offended by graphic sex or swear words in a book and gave the book a one star review based on that. Or they loathe secret baby tropes, or some other device in your book. It could be anything. We all have different tastes and reactions to the same books and movies. The point is, the reviews are meant to tell other readers what to expect. The author already knows what’s in the book.

Yes, the bad review will turn some readers away but that can be a good thing. You want the right readers to find your books. The readers that love it so much, they talk about it everywhere; to their neighbors, their pharmacist, their mother-in-law and most definitely, online. Those readers are pure gold, and they are the ones who will help your career grow the most. You don’t want more readers bad-mouthing your book. There’s real danger in accidently drawing a lot of readers who don’t like the type of book you wrote. A few bad reviews can warn off those readers who, in huge numbers, can cause real damage.

As a reader, I read and buy books from bad reviews. When I’m browsing for books, I check out one and two star reviews. Why? Because the very thing they hate is often the thing I love in a book. Woman in jeopardy with a protective hero that annoys some readers? I’ll buy it! Too sexy? Just what I’m looking for! A bad review is often more specific than a raving review, and helps me zero in on what I want to read. So not only can bad review warn off some readers, they can gain you readers who want to read the story you wrote.

Never Respond to a Bad Review. The temptation is great, but resist the urge to correct or lash out. Reviewers sometimes get details wrong, but it does not help your sales or reputation to correct them. Responding can cause way more damage to your career than anything the reviewer said. I’ve seen flame wars break out, the author’s name get smeared, and in a few cases, authors were stalked by trolls who posted bad reviews on every book. Don’t respond, it’s not worth the potential problems. If there really is some issue you think must be addressed, politely contact that platform that posted the review.

Don’t let a bad review on your book define you. No review deserves that power. You decide who you are, and demonstrate it by your choices and actions. No review can do that, so don’t let a review ruin your day. If you want to gripe to your spouse or friends for a few minutes, have at it. I’ve done that too. Then let it go and write your next book.

Since my Kirkus review in 2001, I’ve written twenty-five more books, won awards, hit the USA Today Bestseller List, various other lists. I’m living proof a bad review doesn’t destroy your career.

Monday, January 18th, 2021
Weekend Roundup

It’s so hot here, it’s hard to believe its January. Yesterday morning when Maggie and I were walking about 7am, the bunnies were out playing. Everyone is confused. Meanwhile, other parts of the country are getting slammed with cold and storms.

My weekend was good. Saturday I got a ton of stuff done which included writing pages, and I made these cookies for Turbo:

Sunday we went to visit Turbo. He loved the cookies, of course. So does Wizard, but I can’t limit him to one like I do Turbo :-)

So that was my weekend, how was yours?

Friday, January 15th, 2021
Friday Five

TGIF! It’s a crazy world, but some things remain the same like sharing five random things about our week. I’ll go first:

  1. Don’t be jealous, but yesterday I went to Target with a mental list, meaning I was too lazy to write it down. But guess what? I remember everything on my list. Impressive, am I right?
  2. After two weeks of nonstop whining from Wizard, I broke down and made dark chocolate almond clusters with sea salt. And I made him his favorite taquitos for dinner last night too. I’m inspired by how hard he’s trying to give me space to work lately.
  3. I’m hoping that Covid will be better and Wizard and I can go to the NINC conference in in the fall. It’s in St. Pete’s Florida, and I’ve loved it the the two times I’ve gone.
  4. I’m writing. It’s a mess, but eventually, the magic will happen and a book will start to emerge. Eli and Savi, and Ram and Ginny’s stories are running around in my head, making me dizzy as I try to get them all to line up in an orderly format. It’s probably a lot like putting a bunch of cranky toddlers juiced up on Twinkies and Ding Dongs in a room with feral cats, set off the fire alarm and sprinkles and then expect them to write a book that’s readable.
  5. I’m going to try to see Turbo this weekend if possible. I have some store bought break and bake sugar cookies in my fridge that I never used. So I bought mini M&Ms and plan figure out how to get the most M&Ms possible in a cookie, bake it and then take it to Turbo. I take my job of spoiling him very seriously :-) I have no idea why his parents are so tolerant of me doing this stuff but I’m grateful.

That’s my five things, now I’d love to hear yours. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and peaceful weekend!

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021
Is There an Easy Button to Success?

**Edited to change title and add graphic

These days, I have a lot of advertisements popping up on my social media that are variations of online classes promising The Secret.

The secret to writing faster.

The secret to a bigger email list.

The secret to cracking the code to becoming a bestseller.

I’ve fallen for these. It’s always when I’m feeling desperate for a faster, easier process than the one I have. And you know what?

It’s B.S. because THERE IS NO EASY BUTTON TO SUCCESS.

I’m sorry, there just isn’t.

So instead of believing the promise of an easy button, we can:

Writer faster by sitting our butts in the chair and writing. Over and over, every day that we can, until all those words build into a book. And then we edit, rewrite, and do it all again until we have the best book we can create.

To get a bigger email list, we must write gripping books over and over, create content that subscribers like to get in their newsletters and have patience. Lasting success is rarely instant. Give it time and learn from trial and error.

To crack the code to becoming a bestseller…come on guys, if there was a code or magic elixir, I wouldn’t tell you for free. I’d make you buy my online class, and we’d all be bestsellers :-) Just like if there was a get-rich-quick scheme that truly worked, we’d all be rich. The things you can do; write compelling books consistently, release as often as you can, create a solid marketing strategy to get the word out, and say a prayer that readers will love your books enough to spread the word. Because readers are the ultimate and treasured key to the bestseller lists.

To be clear, I’m all for classes that help. Like workshops to build, develop, or sharpen craft. Or taking an online class with an experienced author or publicist to understand the different between marketing and publicity, and how to use them to promote your titles. FYI, the stripped down, overly simple explanation of the different between marketing and publicity is:

Marketing is paid promotion (like buying ads, paying for a blog tour, etc.)

Publicity is free (like people posting, tweeting, or talking about your book)

There are great classes out there to take, but if we’re looking for the easy button to success, then let’s all say this together. “THERE IS NO EASY BUTTON.”

Accept that it’s hard, shake off the fears and insecurities, and do the work!

Monday, January 11th, 2021
Weekend Roundup

Maggie and I were so bored this weekend that we went to visit Count Dracula. We first met him around Halloween when he just suddenly turned up.

I guess he likes it out there with all the rocks, snakes, lizards and coyotes to count. Yep that was a silly reference to The Count from Sesame Street. By the way, I’m pretty sure The Count’s need to count everything was probably OCD. And yes, my thoughts really do jump around a lot lately, LOL

Anyhow, my weekend was boring. Well except for the scene I wrote in my book where my witch performs a cool magic trick using shadows and a crossbow.

What? That’s not weird, is it?

Sigh, we all know this book is trying to send me screaming into early retirement. But I’m way too stubborn to give in, so I sat my butt at the computer all freaking weekend, trying to figure out why I can’t get it going. I think I finally got it semi sorted yesterday, and it only took something like 253 scenes to get there. My process is a tad inefficient :-) I am not going to admit how many actual pages I’ve written and cut. In my defense, I have them all in a cut file, and I plan to use a few of those scenes later so they aren’t a total loss.

I bet your weekend was a lot more interesting than mine!

Friday, January 8th, 2021
Friday Five

TGIF. I’m gonna try to think of five things to share, but it’s slim pickings this week.

  1. I managed to get the packet of information off to Inkslinger PR to arrange the blog tour for Savaged Illusions, The Compete Series (boxed set).
  2. My writing crashed and burned.
  3. My concertation went out in search of 2022. I’m trying to lure it back with lots of chocolate and wine.
  4. Maggie decided she’s unsure about 2021 and retired to her kennel. She normally doesn’t go in there a lot during the day, but she’s been hanging out in there this week for some reason that makes sense to her. And yeah, she’s hard to see in there, LOL
  5. Today, I’m sending the witch hunters out to capture my concertation, and asking the witches to conjure up a spell to write Primal Magic! Or maybe I should have the witches design that spell to stop cutting every freaking scene I write. Yeah, maybe that :-)

Okay that’s my five, now I’d love to hear yours. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

JenniferLyon.com