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Oh wow, I haven’t laughed so much since Mrs Giggles’ Trixy Lion Publishing website.

Lisa Charlton a newly self-published writer, put the following post up on Lulu.com:

My new book is called in a childs heart and i am really very interested to know what everyone thinks about it. If you’re interested then please feel free to visit my link at http://www.lulu.com/content/2122930 Thanks for your time reading my post guys i do really appreciate it.

Now, what was I saying about authors and coherent writing in public?

For you lazy buggers who can’t be arsed to click on the link, here’s how the first few responses went:

(David, a regular at the forum speaks up first)

You have numerous English language usage problems on that page–too many to make me want to review your work. (Right at the beginning, “Hi guys welcome to my storefront i do hope …” should be at least corrected to “Hi guys, welcome to my storefront.

I hope …” ‘Guys’ is also a little too impersonal and unprofessional a term to greet with, in my opinion. And your English doesn’t improve later in the page.) The giant Forex add is also a giant turnoff. Are you selling your writing, or multi-level-marketing stuff? Focus the topic of the page to one or the other, not both–you lose the message in the forest.

In my opinion, ‘hedonism’ is not a good term to use to use in conjunction with the title, “in a child’s heart” (it should be capitalized to “In a Child’s Heart”). I’m not interested in reading about the perspective of a spoiled brat, and that is what your quotation seems to imply the book is about.

If it really is, why would I be interested in that? Does the child change? What is the catharsis that brings them to a greater understanding of humanity? The portion of the blurb I read doesn’t give any clues about such an event taking place.

I sincerely hope that this brief critique is helpful, and is useful on your quest to make the writing appealing to a wide audience, and a commercial success. If it isn’t, respond accordingly, and I will remove the body of this post if possible.

David

Lisa, (bless her cotton socks) then replies with:

It is my very first time writng a novel and i obviously know that i have alot of learning to do where this subject is concerned. Did you actually read what it is about or just jumped to conclusions before you carried on?

The charactor in the book is fighting an illness called obsessive compulsive disorder. You would do well in getting your facts right before getting insulting towards another persons work. And read carefully about what the charactor is going through in the stages of her life coping with a mental illness.

David then writes back in response to her unintelligible comments:

I read this:

…Having tantrums on occasions suits me fine, for my folks on the other hand, its either respiratory problem, angina or manic depression, anxiety attack and a generous helping of stress and high blood pressure. And I haven’t even started yet!…

I said what I said hoping that it might help fix the problems. If you don’t want input towards improving your work, I’ll remove the body of these posts.

Best wishes,
David

Lisa, poor deluded Lisa (what was I saying about authors and public writing?) responded with this rant:

Help is one thing insults are another thing entirely. Did you actually read the novel, or does the fact that i written about a mental illness insult you enough not to read about the subject? You, clearly have chosen to be out of “context” about my work over two paragraphs i have written in my book.

I do take constructive criciticism very well and appreciate a wide variety of comments, what i do find insulting is people whom find themselves being called a professional is when they don’t even try to read what the author is promoting, instead only finds that a critic has not done the job properly by not reading the material that is available to them and still thinks that they can comment on something they have no idea about what the subject the book is based on. Does this sound familiar to yourself?

oh and by the way, you didn’t read this ” I am here to do something very obsessive, very compulsive and very much needed advertising for my new hedonistic novel In a childs heart! it is based on my charactor aisling who is having to live with both of parents whom personalities match those of a mis-guided missiles, whilst having to deal with fact that she has obsessive compulsive disorder.” Meaning that obsessive compulsive disorder is known as a serious mental illness.

Emily Veinglory then chimes in with what most people are thinking at this point:

All I can say is that heavily ungrammatical posts and defensive responses prevent me from becoming interested in your work, no matter how worthy it might be. That is simply a pragmatic matter of good versus not so good promotional approaches.

Lisa The Dumbass just doesn’t know when to accept that she’s a numpty and give in gracefully:

Well all i can say is that people who don’t defend their work is obviously not a believer in what they are writing about, now i am sure you would do the say same thing if you’re passionate about the work you love. Have you read any of my material at all or have you just seen half written comments on the forum and made a opinion about a subject you may not know about too well? Like david before you?

Douglas then chimes in:

Lisa, you seem, in the book, to be writing in the voice of a character with a limited capacity for formal writing. If you had told the reviewers that before inviting reviews it might have been much clearer that one should not expect grammatical precision from this character’s first person narrative. Otherwise it is easy to assume that the many obvious mistakes are due to other factors.

Other writers have made this technique work, but also made is clearer what was going on. “Flowers for Algernon”, etc.

Also, the price of $25+ for a 50 to 80 page hardbound book is surely going to limit interest from casual shoppers. Even the download was listed as $17+ dollars. That is a deal breaker, in my personal opinion, which is what you asked for in your opening post.

This excerpt from Lisa’s response just about killed me off:

…P.s Douglas with all due respect i would like it very much so that you will for future reference to call me by my christian name which is lisa. Not her, as i have been called in the beginning of your post. Thank you.

David once again bravely steps up to the plate:

did not say that it was about a spoiled brat. I said: “I’m not interested in reading about the perspective of a spoiled brat, and that is what your quotation seems to imply the book is about.”

Your job as a writer is to make it so that your work gives your readers the impression that you want them to have. I was pointing out the impression your blurb gave me, so that if that wasn’t what you wanted, you could change the blurb now, before it is too late.

Learn to read the critiques you are given, before throwing one of those tantrums–then you won’t have to apologize later (if you are lucky enough that the reviewer sticks around, that is).

And who cares if Douglas said ‘her storefront’ instead of using your “christian” name. Get over it. He gave you an exceedingly kind review–just thank him for it.

Do yourself another favor: study English–especially capitalization. The word “Christian” is always capitalized. A devout Christian would know that.

Take your book to a writer’s workshop taught by an English major. It will be worth every penny you pay. Or pay a professional editor–even the cheap services offered on the Lulu site will be a great benefit to you, but don’t bicker with them if they only review ten pages of your work for those low prices. You have a lot of improvements to make. I am not saying that to put you down; it is simply a statement of fact, and I wish you well on that journey.

Best wishes,
David

Back to Lisa:

I am a Devout christian david so please don’t tell me other wise. Is it too much to ask for respect in using my name. Would you like to be referred to as a it or a him? David? I respectively can see that douglas is being kind with what he has written, i know i am not the one being out of context here. Also where douglas’s review is concerned i am overjoyed that douglas has pointed me in the right direction so i can correct all of my errors i have made so far and, i, sincerely thank douglas for this.

I also would like to add is this i would like to say thank you to yourself too david, unfortunately i know we have got off on the wrong foot. Somewhere along the line {K:Ya think?}.

Okay i know my english isn’t to your liking the same has happened with some other top novelist such as Jane Austin…

My type of writing is narrative and is looking at the world through the eyes of a child. I hope that now you can understand where i am coming from when i speak and write about the situations and charactoristics of the person i am writing about in my book. Bearing in mind My main charactor has behavoural issues. Due to having OCD!

Back to David:

lisa charlton wrote:
…Okay[, I] know my [E]nglish isn’t to your liking…

Yes, but do you know that it is so bad that you have absolutely zero percent chance of having someone like me buy your book unless you fix it? It will vastly limit your book’s audience.

If you want to make money from your book, Obsessively, Compulsively work on your manuscript, until the Disorder in it is fixed. Quit using the disease as an excuse to justify bad writing. You are not Jane Austin.

Goodbye and good luck.

Back to Lisa

How observant of you to notice that i am not Jane Austin, I also know that i never implied that i am like Jane Austin i have just simply quoted from a book i have been studying and by the way did pass with flying colors. Surprised? Good! I am so happy that you are…

Back to David:

lisa charlton wrote:
Read the book [D]avid[.]

Right now, there is also a zero percent chance of that happening. The bad usage of commas, non-use of capitalization, and terrible sentence structure in the dedication and the first paragraph give me a headache. (A run-on sentence in the dedication is simply unacceptable.) Until you fix them, I’m done.

Again, goodbye and good luck.
Him.

This comment from Douglas had me howling:

lisa charlton wrote:
P.s Douglas with all due respect i would like it very much so that you will for future reference to call me by my christian name which is lisa. Not her, as i have been called in the beginning of your post. Thank you.

Sorry. Guess I just fell into the trap of using pronouns at a young and vulnerable phase of my life, and haven’t been able to escape those evil clutches.

Too funny.

One more gem from Lisa:

You have seriously got a attitude problem david, and i would like to let you know that my errors have been corrected. I know i have not swallowed a dictionary, or even have become a major intellectual in gramma and punctuation’s and i think its fair to say neither are you. Granted i know that you have taken your time out to read my post. I know that i can accept all kinds of criticism which is being thrown at me from all directions. I have rectified all of my errors that i know of…

Priceless, abso-fucking-lutely priceless.

Via Mrs Giggles’ blog.

32 Comments »

  • I am widely and accurately known for writing online as if English is not my nature tongue and I am typing with two rubber mallets. Everyone has their failings and that is surely one of mine, but what can’ya do. I try.

    That exchange is pretty typical for Lulu. But every now and again I actually find a real gem of a book there, normally by spotting someone who conducts themself with a hint of decorum when trying to either improve or market their book.

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  • Case in point: nature tongue? : / I meant “native”.

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  • Lanaia Lee isn’t alone.

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  • nancy
    April 20
    10:06 pm

    Priceless, abso-fucking-lutely priceless.

    Yes, it is. I went by Mrs. Giggles’s blog and, foolishly, went the distance. I read the writer’s excerpt.

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  • Uh, I now have a migraine. I read it once, couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and refuse to read it again. The pain is almost too much to take.

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  • December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    April 20
    10:17 pm

    I actually tried to find an excerpt but couldn’t, just lots of blank pages and an unintelligible, uninformative blurb.

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  • I loved the comment from the Lulu staff member who locked the thread:

    I am locking this thread. OP has made it clear that no constructive criticism can me made without offense.
    Lisa, if you cannot take advice properly, I suggest you do not ask for it.

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  • katieM
    April 20
    10:33 pm

    I found the excerpt and all I can say is wow. My 3rd graders write better than that. Infinitely better. I have a headache and a fear that such bad writing is contagious.

    It always amazes me when someone asks for constructive criticism, gets it, and then can’t take it. Obviously that Lisa person is either not a native English speaker or she is a terribly uneducated child.

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  • Capo
    April 20
    10:38 pm

    I might be able to overlook poor grammar in comments, but it is the book description that gave me a headache trying to decipher:

    “There isn’t many things I can remember from being a baby. Lets just say its pretty much hard, doing it whilst I was still stuck in that bloody womb. The blissful year was in 1974. The year where one, of my parents had dreaded, the absolute dismal torment of motherhood! My maggie would have been looked upon as wanton hussy, just because she had fallen victim to a teenage pregnancy at the tender age of sixteen. Or, so we believe! Many had believed and said that my maggie had, had a seriously bad reputation to say the least, at a young age my maggie had ran away from a children’s home because of a lack of tolerance towards her own mother! As she was put into a children’s home. the teenage strops, mood swings bouts of pms rolled into one dodgy ticking time bomb had finally took its toll within the family boundaries. I supposed they got tired living in those trenches”

    Some people shouldn’t even think about writing a book.

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  • Jane
    April 21
    12:02 am

    Clearly David should be ashamed of himself for daring to speak his mind after being invited to do so. There are always so many unwritten rules to this “let me know what you think” invitation, it’s no wonder that there is near constant miscommunications.

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  • Unfortunately I think there’s a generation out there that has gotten so accustomed to text messaging that old-fashioned grammatical rules have been dropped. We got an email from our granddaughter the other day that contained no capitals and poor punctuation. She’s a senior in high school. *sigh* It’s so discouraging.

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  • What a most peculiar person she seems to be. She asks for thoughts on something almost unreadable then when thoughts are given which must not be to her liking, although I didn’t see what her issues were, she starts getting insulting. After I figured out how to read some of her “book” it also gave me a headache.

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  • I is capitalized, damn it! For the love of all that’s holy, this person needs to learn to spell, capitalize, and punctuate correctly.

    Is it wrong of me that I wanted to go through and edit her comments?

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  • Unfortunately I think there’s a generation out there that has gotten so accustomed to text messaging that old-fashioned grammatical rules have been dropped.

    Byrdloves2read seems to have nailed it for me.

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  • About halfway through your post I began to think this was a joke. I guess not. Wow. I am speechless.

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  • *bangs head on desk* Jane AustEn. You claim to be reading the book right next to you and can’t spell her name right? *bangs head on desk some more*

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  • Jana J. Hanson
    April 21
    7:30 pm

    Oh, thank you for the giggles, Karen (and Mrs. Giggles). I’m having a case of the Mondays; this pushed them right out the door!

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  • Jenns
    April 21
    7:45 pm

    What Jill D. said.
    And I am now in desperate need of extra strength Tylenol.

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  • The thing that got me was he wasn’t criticizing the subject matter as much as the mechanics. I don’t think she ever did get that. Or did I miss something?

    *sigh*

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  • **facepalm**
    Wow, this makes my old purple-melodrama fanfic look like, well, Jane Austen *g*

    I know for a fact that schools still teach grammar. There’s no excuse for writing as bad as what this chick is attempting (most likely without success) to sell.

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  • Heh, you want to see something unreal? Check out this post at The Rejecter. This guy was unbelievable.

    (I chose the long, excrutiating culmination of events, but you can look further back for the precipitating incident if you like. Me, I’d rather forget the whole thing, but that won’t stop me from sharing my pain…)

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  • kristenmary
    April 21
    11:37 pm

    My favorite part is the bit about pronoun usage grabbing him at an early age. Too funny.

    Thanks for the laugh today, Karen.

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  • I’ve got to get this out, please forgive me:

    It’s CHARACTER. C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R. “Charactor” sounds like something from Pokemon.

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  • Capo Have you had permission from Myself (Lisa Charlton) to any of the work i have done? Answer is that NO you haven’t. I am suing you for copy right theft.

    Regards

    Lisa Charlton

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  • Capo Have you had permission from Myself (Lisa Charlton) to any of the work i have done? Answer is that NO you haven’t. I am suing you for copy right theft.

    Regards

    Lisa Charlton

    Oh, for crying out loud.

    Lisa, you’re making yourself look like a fool now.

    She hasn’t claimed those words as her own, she hasn’t used them to try and make a buck. And that, pretty much, is one of the key determining factors to copyright theft.

    Fair use and all that-if she isn’t trying to make money off of your words, if she isn’t stealing huge chunks and then inserting them into her own book without crediting you, etc.

    Via the US Copyright Office.

    You’re digging yourself into a hole here. This blog is read by a HUGE amount of people, many of them readers, many of them industry professionals (and not just authors-I’m talking editors, agents, etc). You’re attacking readers because they didn’t like your book. You can’t MAKE people like your book.

    However, you can make them dislike you. As somebody who apparently wants to sell books (ergo…you want people to shell out their money for your books) alienating potential customers is a bad, bad, bad move.

    Somebody didn’t like your writing. So what? You suck it up, and go on. If you feel you need to respond, the best way to do it is to hey, sorry it didn’t work for you, maybe the next one will. Because a gracious response could have impressed a few lurkers and maybe they would have tried your book out.

    Lashing out? Not going to impress anybody.

    You’re a writer. You ought to understand just how much power words can have. They can either make people love your story or hate it. But coming out on a rant isn’t going to make anybody love you, unless it’s another that can’t take criticism.

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  • Capo
    May 18
    2:21 pm

    But I quoted YOU, Ms. Charlton. I never claimed I wrote that excerpt. I think you’re intelligent enough to know the difference between a quote and plagiarism. And I’m sure any real attorney would.

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  • I think you’re intelligent enough to know the difference between a quote and plagiarism.

    You’re kidding, right Capo? *g*

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  • Darling, if you can’t take criticism then you need to get out of the business. Does it hurt when someone doesn’t like my work? Of course it does. But, I’m not going to throw a hissy fit and make a fool out of myself. You may want to take the time to listen to what they say. More times than not, you can learn something that will make your writing better.

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  • Emmy
    May 18
    5:33 pm

    Is she an ESL student? Her posts read like one who was haphazardly taught the language a few months ago. Unless her book is presented as an illustration of how not to write, I doubt I’ll be reading it.

    Last time I saw “..have you had permission from Myself…”, it was some guy who thought he was a Dom. He was slightly more entertaining.

    People were actually quite kind in pointing out her obvious grammatical errors.

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  • Laura
    May 18
    10:40 pm

    OMG! Talk about someone who has been beaten to death with the dumb stick!

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  • Well all i can say is that people who don’t defend their work is obviously not a believer in what they are writing about, now i am sure you would do the say same thing if you’re passionate about the work you love.

    This is an interesting (granted, totally misguided) POV. It’s the writer’s responsibility to defend his/her writing if it’s criticized? Because to fail to defend it means he/she doesn’t believe in it?

    Lisa, if you’re reading these posts, please listen. If you were to write a perfect book (which, btw doesn’t exist and never will), someone somewhere would still criticize it.

    Storytelling is a craft, not a science. Written word (in its many forms–poetry, short stories, novels, etc.) is art. And therefore every individual who reads a piece of work will respond differently because their response is shaped by their personal taste, experiences in life, prejudices, and expectations.

    Your job as a writer is to deliver a message, to paint a picture with words. Period. It’s not to defend your writing or convince people to like it. You work must stand on its own.

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  • Ami S
    May 19
    6:30 pm

    OMG! Lightbulb moment here. English must not be her native tongue. She has apparently, IMO, found a translation site and is typing in her own language what she wants to say and then is posting the translation verbatim. I remember in my high school Spanish class, we often had to translate from Spanish to English and when you did that, most of the time, the English translation if/when done verbatim, wasn’t quite right.

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