Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” If I were to give one piece of advice to a budding writer, it would be to pursue your dreams, but be careful and wary of the critics.
Every writer in their career has experienced a bad review whether it has been on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or on another book seller site. We live in a world where everyone who reads—be it a recipe, novel, back of a cereal box, or the newspaper—believes he or she has the skills and expertise to critically review a piece of written work. These individuals may never have written any fiction or nonfiction in their life. They may never have written a simple letter or read a classic author or an instructional book on writing. But in a world where dissension seems to overshadow the need for harmony and goodwill, you will encounter unpleasant folks who are eager to offer callous comments and opinions.
When I submitted my first novel, I received a letter from an agent telling me everything that was wrong with my manuscript. This person will never get stars for being positive, helpful, or polite. Needless to say, I was discouraged–since all my life I’ve been a writer and have written for radio, television, education and industry. So what did I do with the manuscript? I shoved it in a drawer to collect dust.
For ten years, I refused to return to novel writing, but instead continued to write short stories, many of which won awards and were published for decent money. Finally, one day, I asked myself: If I can write well enough to write short stories, why was I so horrendous with longer pieces? Or was I? I decided to buy some books on fiction writing and start a new novel. This time, I discounted all the negativity and decided to believe in the beauty of my dreams. Since then, I have four books published in historical and contemporary genres; and I’m working on my fifth.
Along the way, in this often tiring and tedious process, I learned rejection and constructive critique are part of the whole writing process. I learned to receive helpful comments without allowing it to destroy my ego. I discovered I can wallow in a gloomy mood and gobble down a chocolate candy bar when criticism strikes, but only for a brief moment. Then it’s time to move on and use or discard the advice. I also learned a writer should always, always, get more than one opinion of his/her work before deciding to trash it.
Remember to be wary. All criticism might not be noble or valuable. It may merely be from a disgruntled person who selected the wrong book. Maybe the buyer didn’t understand the genre or couldn’t identify with the storyline, characters, or plot. . .or maybe he/she might simply be a self-proclaimed critic who reads a lot of cereal boxes.
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date Published: May 2014
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Word Count: 299
Hired as the town’s school teacher, Maria O’Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered.
Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life.
When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he is the target of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she might be the target instead of the handsome rancher.
With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle’s killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado’s starry skies?
Two Bears grinned. “And a sorry hide yours is, Tye Ashmore. You are getting careless. You leave woman with hair the color of mink all alone. You lose horse, rifle, donuts, and water. And you do not take dog with you.”
“If you keep insulting me, Two Bears, I’m going to take my rifle and wrap it around your greasy neck. Why didn’t you bring my horse?”
“Why didn’t you?” Two Bears asked. His mouth was tight and grim. “If I had moved the horse, anyone watching would know to follow me back to you or your woman.”
Tye nodded. “I figured the same. I decided we’d walk down to get it when it gets dark.”
Maria rose and stepped between them. She was weary, and she wanted to get home, take a bath, and soak her skinned arm and injured knee. “Why can’t we just start now?”
“Your woman is not happy.” Two Bears grunted. “An angry squaw can make sunny days seem like rainy ones.”
Maria glared at him.
“Maybe we’re both not happy since you’re eating our food,” Tye countered.
Two Bears thumped his chest and grinned. “I even ate the ones you dropped on the trail. Before any varmints could get to them. Come, I know another path to your horse. By the time we arrive,it will be dark, and you can take your woman and go the rest of the way safely.”
“I am not his woman,” Maria snapped. “I am not a piece of property. Stop saying that!”
Two Bears jumped back, away from her. “If you say so.” He looked at Tye with wide eyes. “Hair like a mink. Temper like a badger.”
She began her career in writing as a copy and continuity writer for radio and television. Many of her short stories have appeared in various literary and small magazines, and anthologies, and have received numerous awards.
When Judy Ann isn’t behind a computer, you can find her looking for anything humorous to make her laugh or swinging a golf club, where the chuckles are few.
She is a member of Pennwriters, Inc. and Romance Writers of America.
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