Monday, August 3, 2015

The worst review ever

I was having trouble thinking of something to write, when this fell into my lap. 

Third review on my new release and it asked why was the story similar to one already written. Needless to say I was horrified.  I never read the book cited.  At least I don't think I ever did.

Before I tell you about the story and my story, let me say I have been reading romances since I snuck True Confessions and True Story magazines from my mom's reading pile when I was fourteen and then progressed to romances.  That was 50 years ago and I have read a whole lot of books.

The story  I just released -  - is my story.  Rooted in what happened to me but with a twist.  I was the consummate nerd.  Moved to a city from a small town in Pennsylvania when I was going into the eighth grade and did not belong with my new surroundings or the kids.  Didn't dress the same, wasn't anywhere as mature as they were, and not nearly as mean spirited.  Dirt poor, when I got a new outfit for school, that was all I got.  One new outfit.  I wore thick soled shoes and thicker glasses. I was picked on and laughed at unmercifully for most of my school years.  I can't remember all the names I was called, but I do remember trying not to be noticed so I wouldn't hear them.  The cool kids picked on me, the jocks laughed at me, and I virtually had few friends.  Those that were friends were just like me and we survived together by learning to blend into the background.

I kinda morphed into someone tolerated about my junior year of high school, and wrote on the school newspaper and yearbook staff.  That's where my love of writing came from. Got a job, worked on changing myself and kept on reading romances because that's were the great guys were.

Fast forward to now, and I needed a new plot. Writing about a woman who goes from plain into pretty was overdone, so I decided to try writing about a geek who suddenly becomes cool. But guys aren't into plastic surgery, so I figured and auto accident would take care of what I needed. So I smashed the hero's face and sent him to the hospital.  I gave him a girl-friend who cared about him, but not a girlfriend because I had a boy-friend who I guess took pity on me back in the day and at least talked to me once in a while.  That and we both like science fiction books. 

I called upon life for the rest, drawing on things I saw, things I saw on TV  and things experienced through life.  The hero actually owned a successful computer-gaming development business, but had be lying about it for two years because the girl-friend treated him like a person and not a modern-day nerd.  She offered to help him build a new outside while he tried to remain the same on the inside, and she also offered pointers to ease him into the dating scene because she thought he deserved to experience everything he had missed before she told him how she actually felt about him, all the while hoping he would not find someone else in the process.  I tossed in some cougars and kittens, a  hussy at work, and some internet bloggers who found out about his transformation and broke the story on the internet, and an FTC investigation of his company which had a public offering on the stock market before they ended up happily ever after.

I thought it was a good story. Then wham!!  I was told someone already wrote it.

Worse than that, I liked this story so much  that I hired a PR firm to do all sorts of media on this because I was finally able to release all the hurt I still carried, but should have let go a long time ago.  How stupid would I have been to try to attract attention to something already out there?  How stupid would it be to not think readers would notice?  

I been reading for 50 years, writing for 20.  Did I read a story like this?  Maybe.  I can't prove I didn't but I can't prove I did.

But I can prove I lived it.  The scars are there and I guess will always be now. I don't know what is going to happen. Maybe the book will be pulled.  Maybe I'll never submit again for fear all the stories in my head have already been told.  Maybe no one will publish me again.  It will be what it will be. But I will see this to the end, whatever that is.

On the only positive thing I can see is maybe there is another story in the future.  This time non-fiction.

Please don't share this post.  This is for my Avalon sisters who I hope know me well enough to at least understand that I had to talk to someone because this hurts as much as all the name calling.


  1. Hugs, Kathye. The review only makes a simple comment that it's similar to another book. Lots of romances have plots that are similar -- not identical -- to other romances. The other two reviews are 5-star.

  2. Kathye, it sounds like a story of the triumph of the human spirit - one of the great themes in literature. Doesn't that reviewer know that there are only so many stories that are told over and over again because they are universal. Maybe the poor soul has only read one other book - or maybe he/she just likes to feel important by making other people feel small. As for your scars, I call them beauty marks.

  3. Hi Kathye--
    Some reviews just plain stink. Don't let this one stop you from doing what you love, and from doing what you are very skilled at. It doesn't matter if the premise is similar, it is your heart and soul and voice that makes the books different.

  4. Thanks all - but to protect the publisher - I have asked it to be removed. I am gun-shy now.

  5. There are no new plots, only new takes on old plots. Shakespeare didn't hesitate to reuse a plot if he could see the potential in it. I'm sorry you feel you have to take it down based on one review. There are so many books I can think of that are similar to other books in plot, in characters, in setting. I'm sure that even if the stories had similar elements your take on it was uniquely your own.