Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Writer's Garden Party

Hi there! Today is my first official post and I just wanted to tell you how stoked I am to be here! I love that OA focuses on writing because over the past six years that's been my focus too. Which means I have TONS to share with you.

I knew you'd be dancing in your seat about that.

Quick intro -- I have two novels and one novella published, all part of an upper YA / New Adult time travel series. I'm also working on two non-fiction projects--one a memoir for the mom of a survivor, and the other a series of how-to books with another author. You may know me from around the blogosphere as I've been blogging for four years over at PK Hrezo - Fearless Fiction. You can now find me here every other Tuesday.

So what the heck is a "writer's garden party," right??

Allow me to elucidate ... There's an old song called Garden Party by Ricky Nelson. You can watch it on YouTube HERE if you're not familiar with it.

Over the years, this song has become more and more of a mantra for me. Even more so now that I'm a published author. Here are the chorus lyrics repeated over and over throughout the song:

"Well, it's all right now. I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself." 

Right? Don't you love that?? And the melody and mood of the song are so mellow and easy, it adds a contented acceptance to the lyrics. No anger. No bluesy melodrama. Just matter of fact and c'est la vie. 

Writing is like that. When we first start out we have so much to learn. We do our time in the trenches of critique purgatory and beta reading boot camp. We grit our teeth and forage through the growing pains because we know it'll make us excellent writers on the other side. We study craft books, attend workshops, sometimes endure a public flogging of our work, all so we can become better.

So others will read and love our stories.

And then there comes a time after all of that when we've earned a writer's garden party. We throw one for ourselves and toss aside all regrets and inhibitions. Because you can't please everyone so ...

                                             PHOTO CREDIT: pottery barn kids

... you've got to please yourself.

Case in point: With my most recent release, Induction Day, I knew there would be some readers who felt the first part was slow. But I also knew that for my story to work, the characters needed to grow a bit more together. My series is character driven. The story is about them, not the other way around. I deliberated over whether or not to cut some of the first part because I was afraid of losing readers. I had one critique partner tell me I should.

I had another critique partner tell me they thought the whole story was fast paced and how much they enjoyed the romance in the beginning.

Has this happened to you before? Conflicting feedback? Most likely yes. It's happened to me plenty of times, and it can be debilitating as a writer. So what did I do?

Threw a writer's garden party because I couldn't please everyone. I did what I wanted to do, which is follow my characters' lead. This felt right to me. I'm pleased with how my story turned out. But I knew when I published it that not everyone else would be.

Case in point number two: On my recent blog tour, one reviewer said the first part of the story didn't hold their attention as much as the second part when the plot really intensified. Another reviewer on the same tour said the exact opposite--that they preferred the beginning of the story when they learned so much more about how the characters intertwine and are bound to one another.

Same book. Different opinions.

This will always be the case with any book, movie, TV show, etc. With any story. Part of becoming an experienced and mature writer/author is learning to trust your instinct despite the naysayers. In the end, it's YOUR story, and only you knows what's best.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in getting as much feedback as possible and accepting constructive criticism so that our skills will grow. Chances are, if more than one critique partner or beta reader is telling us the same thing, then we need to listen and heed the advice. But if we're getting conflicting feedback, or if our gut is telling us one thing, and a CP another, then that's grounds for a writer's garden party.

                                          PHOTO CREDIT: animationoptions.com

Go on ahead and throw yourself one. It's fresh and calm and relaxing in there.

"Well, it's all right now. I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself." 

So tell me, have you ever received conflicting feedback on your story? How did you handle it? Do you think trusting your gut can be wrong sometimes? Ever thrown yourself a writer's garden party?
Please share ...


  1. Welcome PK! So true about conflicting crits. After everything is said and done (and published) you'll NEVER know which "way" would have worked best for public opinions. You just have to trust your instincts and stand by your decision to do what's right for the story. (lest you fall into the trap of revising for the rest of eternity...which gets tiresome and frustrating. (Been there!) )

    1. Exactly Toni! It's something we learn as we go, and it's liberating! Thanks so much for the warm welcome! :)

  2. I absolutely have had conflicting feedback. One agent said I had the strongest voice she had ever encountered (and this is an agent who reps authors you've seen on the NYT best seller list, but unfortunately no longer represented this genre), and another agent said that I lacked voice. Same submission. I've had people love the same parts of a story that others didn't like or flat out said they were confused by. (It was possibly confusing because a female knight was sent to rescue a prince-- the opposite of a damsel was saving the guy in distress.)

    Nothing is more true than that we must write stories because it makes us personally happy to do so. Writers really are responsible for pleasing themselves.

    1. I can relate Lenni. I once had multiple requests on a story that received so much conflicting feedback I set the story aside never to return. It's sad when that happens. But since then, I've learned that I really do know what's best for my story.
      I love that you did something different and flipped the cliche.

  3. Welcome, P.K. I've actually drafted some blog posts about that song! One of the other aspects of the song and how it relates to writers is that Ricky Nelson (singer/songwriter) was trying to break out of his old 'teen idol' image and do some things that were--gasp--new and different. The unfortunate thing is, fans sometimes don't want to accept that their favorite artists can grow and change.

    Anyway, yes, I've received conflicting feedback. From beta readers, I can take it, because there's a large degree of 'trust your gut' involved in this process. It's a little tougher when it's editors rejecting your work. One loves X but passes because Y is weak, another can't stand X but loves Y. Bleah.

    1. I know what you mean. And editors are just as subjective, which is why the SP boom really took off.Writers started pleasing themselves and writing what they wanted to write regardless.

      That's really interesting about Nelson. I can see how he's want to break free of that image. The guy in my series is going thru the same thing, coincidentally. Trying to break free from bubblegum pop to something more meaningful.
      You're right, we do lose some fans when we grow, but I also thin we find new ones.
      Thanks for the warm welcome! :)

  4. Nice to meet you, PK! Ricky Nelson's refrain is now my new mantra. I have learned to listen to my story's heart and my own good instincts when it comes to conflicting feedback, but I'm working on the "got to please yourself" in other areas of life. I needed to hear that today--thanks!


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