I'm extremely honored and excited to have the amazing Rusty Fischer stop by my blog today with an incredibly interesting, thoughtful and informative guest post!
Rusty is one of my all-time top favorite authors - his books rock my world - yes - but he himself is just an all-around awesome person. His blog is full of quality posts that always inspire me to work harder as a blogger. He is always kind, always fabulous and always fun to talk to! One of the most wonderful people in the buizz! Don't hesitate to chat him up on Twitter or Facebook (links can be found under Rusty's bio!), I promise, you will not regret.
Nothin’ but Blue Skies: Piercing the Review CloudA Guest Post by Rusty Fischer, author of Zombies Don’t Forgive
We live in a review culture. Everywhere you look, people are finding their voice through social media to comment, rate, complain about, “like” or “unlike” everything from their hotel room stay to blockbuster movies to pizza delivery to, naturally, the books they read.As a YA author, I take my book reviews seriously; maybe too seriously. For many years, in fact, I’ve lived under what I call the “review cloud.” The review cloud is a place where reviews are SO important that they silently, but inevitably, creep into your writing. You don’t just listen to reviews; you use them as guideposts and let them direct the course of your own writing.I can remember the first time a reviewer dogged the love triangle in Zombies Don’t Cry, for instance. The whole time I was writing ZDC, having Maddy have to choose between a Normal (what zombies call humans) and a zombie was a no-brainer. How could you *not* go there??But once that negative review had been planted in my head, that was that; the “review cloud” slowly crept over me and, really, stayed there for the next few years. Suddenly I was hypersensitive to ALL the choices I’d made; choices that had always seemed so natural and effortless before. Was I wrong to include a love triangle in ZDC? Had I written, as one reviewer called it, a “zombie Twilight”? And was that such a bad thing?!?!Suddenly I was hypersensitive to any and every review. Even if it was a good review, I’d suss out the weak spot, the little detail that the reviewer hadn’t found so positive, such as Hazel being “annoying,” even though I’d purposefully written her that way, or various secondary characters being “two-dimensional,” etc.So, long story short, I lived under the review cloud for nearly two years, give or take. I couldn’t write a sentence -- and I wrote a LOT of sentences in those two years -- without double-, triple- and quadruple-guessing it before, during and after. I got rid of love triangles, fleshed out secondary characters, pretty much addressed anything I’d ever read in any review, no matter where or who wrote it.Now, I can already feel some of you shaking your heads out there, clucking your tongues, and you’d be right. Opinions are like… well, you know the rest; everyone has one, and they’re all valid -- to them. But not necessarily valid to your own individual creative process.Sometimes I’d read what I’d just written and it sounded so… generic. Anyone could have written it, and that’s just the point. When you’re writing by committee, all the personality gets taken out of the piece. Anything that makes it truly your own gets lost when you’re working so hard to make everyone happy with everything.When you’re constantly worrying about what people will think about every little detail, you’re not writing so much as editing; editing before, during and after you write! Editing is great, but not when there’s no real writing to edit!So, I’m not gonna lie; I got tired of that. From worshipping every review as sacred I kind of got to the point where I was all “meh.” If it was a good review, great. I’d start my morning with a smile. If it was a bad one, I’d ignore it. Not because I didn’t think it valid, but there was no longer anything I could do about it so, why bother? What’s more, there was no longer anything I wanted to do about it.I had, it seemed, moved out from under the review cloud!There is a kind of freedom in putting reviews in their place. I wrote a blog post recently about being more personal and one-on-one in my book marketing, and it follows the same logic: you can’t try to appeal to everybody, just the ones who “get” you.Well, writing is a lot like marketing; you have to do it for yourself first, and the audience second. I’m tired of writing under the review cloud. I’m tired of worrying about what a few specific reviewers might think, especially if it means whitewashing what I really want to write, or even how I want to write. (I like parentheticals, so… sue me!)So, I’ve taken a long while to say just this: the review cloud sucks! It really does, and while I don’t feel like those two years I spent under its shadow were wasted, entirely, I feel like I lost a lot of ground in my ongoing evolution as a writer. Not because I wasn’t productive; I was. But I was going sideways, not forward.Do I still read reviews? Sure; always and ever. But now I kind of shrug rather than get flop sweats. Because, at the end of the day, I’m happier with my own writing than I’ve been in awhile. And no matter what genre you write in, that’s what’s most important.
Yours in YA,
I just LOVE this guest post to pieces, honestly! I first saw Rusty write about the "review cloud" on his blog and I loved it so much, I asked him to write a similar guest post for the MEN in YA2 event. I just HAD TO share it with my readers, it was TOO GOOD to miss out on! Please leave a comment below, letting us know what you think about the "review cloud"! Do you think authors who read reviews of their own books are influenced by them? Do you think that changes the way they think and - ultimately - write? Should they read the reviews, avoid them, or - like Rusty - read, but shrug them off?
We would LOVE to hear what you guys think!!!!
Rusty Fischer is a fantabulous YA Galaxy Defender! Check out Rusty's MIYA-style photo:
(this is an exclusive MEN in YA2 photo that will be printed on the 2014 MEN in YA Calendar. You can enter to win one of two (1 of 2) copies of the exclusive calendar here, at Bookish, on April 30th).
A full-time, professional freelance writer, Rusty Fischer is the author of several YA supernatural novels, including Zombies Don't Cry, Ushers, Inc., Becca Bloom & the Drumsticks of Doom, Detention of the Living Dead -- are we sensing a theme here?!? -- I Heart Zombie and Panty Raid @ Zombie High.
Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer
Paperback, 1st Edition, 371 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Medallion Press
My review: CLICK
Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.
Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.
With no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains.” Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay High faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most—just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.
Buy: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
Zombies Don't Forgive by Rusty Fischer
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Medallion Press
My review: CLICK
Following Barracuda Bay’s homecoming cum zombie Armageddon, fellow zombies Maddy, Dane, and Stamp have fled to Orlando where they work at a theme park, hiding in plain sight at their jobs in the Great Movie Monster Makeover show. The three spend most of their time together in their apartment trying to avoid curious Normals and Sentinels—humans and zombie cops. While Dane and Maddy draw closer, Stamp drifts away, falling for a mysterious blonde. But when the mysterious girl puts their existence in danger, all Maddy cares about is hunting the blonde down to separate her from her head.
Buy: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
What you can win:
- 1 winner will get: 1 copy of Zombies Don't Cry + 1 copy of Zombies Don't Forgive
- 2 winners will get: 1 copy of Zombies Don't Forgive
(3 winners in total)
OPEN TO: International
Ends: May 5th
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This guest post and giveaway is posted as part of: