Reviews. They can make you leap for joy like Sally Field or make you curl up in a dark corner to cry in misery. They can make you show everyone how much that person like your book or wish for the ability to hack into Goodreads to erase it.
They can… Well, you get the point.
Dealing with good reviews is easy. You celebrate.
Dealing with bad and downright ugly, not so easy sometimes.
Or is it?
Actually, it is easy. How, you ask? I suppose it’s time to share my little secret in dealing with the bad and ugly. It’s a two-step process.
First, do I read the bad reviews?
Yep. If someone took the time to read my work, I’ll take the time to read their review. And if they think my book sucks, that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If we were, life would be boring and we would be living inside the world of Harrison Bergeron. Nobody wants that.
Step two: It’s a mantra.
I repeat the titles of famous and award winning books that I didn’t enjoy. Does that denote their worth in the literary world? Nope, just means that it wasn’t my thing. Reminding myself of these books, well, it makes it so much easier to remember that not everyone is going to like what I write either.
It’s that simple. For me anyway. It may not be that easy for other writers, but this works for me. I value other people’s opinions. I like to hear what they have to say, even if it is negative. As the old TV theme song goes, “you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have The Facts of Life.”
There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.
She's supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.
It doesn't take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.
Like when she's reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who's returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.
Instead of maintaing her coveted popularity status, Quincy's goes down like the Titanic.
Maybe... just maybe ... that's okay.
It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn't just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy's priorities -- from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.
A spitball stops in mid-air less than an inch from my nose.
It hangs there. I assume everyone else notices the wet wad of paper too, but when I turn to my bestie Jordan, her mouth is stuck open with her eyes half closed.
She was just laughing. Now she’s ... frozen?
The sudden silence is louder than a room full of gossiping teenagers.
Mini-quakes creep up my spine like a centipede hurrying toward my hair.
I’m not entirely sure my heart is beating. I wave my shaking hand in front of Jordan, hoping this will break her free of whatever happened.
Why am I moving?
So many times, I wished Jordan would stop talking. Now is the one time I need her high-pitched voice to pierce my ears.
Quin, relax. It’s okay. No way this is real. I pinch my arm hard, but it doesn’t change anything.
A loud pop makes me spin around in my seat. A man stands in front of the chalkboard in a bluish-white robe staring at me through blizzard white eyes. He holds a staff in front of him that looks like melting glass.
“Hello, Quincy,” he says in a deep velvet voice. “How would you like to see your future?”
I stand and stumble toward the back of the room. “Who are you supposed to be? Gandalf?” I’m unable to keep the tremor out of my voice.
“One person dresses up like me in a movie, and that’s all I hear.” He leans back on Mr. Spragg’s desk. “I’m far more attractive than him and so much more fun.” He winks and lifts his robe, revealing a pair of yellow and red striped Bermuda shorts and orange flip-flops.
My eyes pop wider at the mismatched mess, but I keep my thoughts about his sense of fashion to myself. “Who are you?”
His sigh echoes off the walls. “I’m Destiny.”
Rolling his eyes, he raises the staff high to his left. Like a swordsman, he stabs and swooshes it down in an arch. The air ripples as a dark slit opens. A man in a deep brown pinstripe suit steps through. His cheap sneakers don’t match the formality of the tan fedora and horn-rimmed glasses.
A pony-sized white German shepherd saunters in behind him, and I take an automatic step back. The dog turns his head, black orbs where its eyes should be.
Pinstripe man glances my way before turning toward the person who calls himself Destiny. His features contort and a maroon tint creeps over his face.
“What the f—”
Destiny flips his finger and the new guy shuts up. After a moment, he does another finger move.
“We said when she was eighteen, Des.”
“I’m aware of that, Forsyth.”
“She’s not eighteen.”
“Really? I never would have guessed.” Sarcasm fills each word as Destiny raises his eyebrows like a flag on the Fourth of July.
Forsyth glares. “Then why am I here?”
“I let you pick the date, but I never agreed to honor it.” Destiny pats the dog on the head with sneer and wipes his hands on his robe. “Now is the time. Teach her.”
L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets. “A Reason to Stay”, a contemporary romance novella, is available as of November 2, 2012. Reaper is her debut young adult novel and will be released on January 7th, 2013.
She is a co-rep for the Southern Illinois region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.