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Let’s Talk About Clint’s Review

Today I saw this lovely review from “Clint” for the short story I recently published, The Ruins: Humanity’s Ending, and I wanted to make an observation or two.

Look, if you don’t like a story, that’s perfectly fine and you have every right to leave a review saying as much. No argument there. Of the thousands of reviews my books have received since I started publishing in 2008, there have been more than a few 1- and 2-star ratings: not every book is for everyone.

As for Clint not believing in climate change, that’s also his privilege, despite the massive evidence to the contrary. But it’s a fair basis for disappointment in the story, and that’s fine, too, although the “you climatistas” bit is pretty infantile, frankly.

What’s not fine is accusing me of “copping off” what I write on people. I put time and effort into writing a story and ask that if you choose to read it that you provide some compensation for that effort. It’s an exchange. And with Amazon, you can always get a free sample to see if you like it. Of course, it may seem fine in the sample, but you find yourself disappointed by the end. That happens. But it’s not because the author – at least in my case – was trying to defraud you. So I did report the review to Amazon for that, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I doubt they’ll do anything, but I’m not going to put up with people just being nasty.

And don’t forget, Clint, that three of my full-length novels – First Contact, Empire, and Season of the Harvest – are free to you and other readers as ebooks. Yes, I do that to help get folks hooked on the story line, but you’re literally getting two or three years of my work for nothing but the click of a button.

Finally, this: “…finish Reza’s story…What a disappointment after waiting so long for new work from you.”

I could practically write a novel-length response to this line, but suffice to say that I was overjoyed to have finally written anything after being abandoned by my muse for so long. I’ve felt like my hands were partly paralyzed for years now, just having no will to write, no inspiration from my muse – nothing. I literally have a dozen novel starts that have been sitting in Scrivener, and In Her Name: Red Legion, which is only a few chapters short of completion, has been languishing for how many years now? I think I’ve lost count.

But in the last four weeks I’ve gotten full use of my hands back: I polished up The Ruins, which I’d written a while back, and published it (you have no idea how good that felt, Clint), and I’ve put in over 30,000 words so far on what’s shaping up to be a novel-length work that – Oh, the horror! – is a romance story that has absolutely nothing to do with my previous work. I have no doubt, Clint, that you’ll immediately pounce on it to give it a one-star review because it’s not what you want.

Why would I write that story, Clint? Why would I do such a horrid thing to you? Because that’s what my muse is calling me to write and now that she’s back I will be damned if I’m going to drive her away. People who aren’t creatives often don’t understand how this works: I literally cannot force myself to write fiction that my muse isn’t driving. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. When I write, the vast majority of the time I don’t even know what I’m going to type until my fingers actually do it (and it doesn’t work by dictation; I’ve tried that several times). The other part is the drive to write, where my muse is agitating for me to get a story out and gets very put out if I don’t hit the keyboard. There’s a very subconscious element to my writing that’s been blocked for a long, long time, and I’m going to keep my muse happy by doing whatever she wants. Yes, she wants to finish Red Legion, and the next books of Vulcan’s Fury, a sequel to The Black Gate, and the other stories I’ve had lined up, but she first wants me to finish the story I’m working on now. I will happily obey.

Clint, I know this may burst your bubble, but I’m not writing for you – I’m writing for me. My very best work was my own personal therapy, my own personal joy, and I think I may have found that again. The romance story I’m working on has been a joy to write so far. I think a lot of people (other than you) will enjoy it, and if they don’t, that’s fair enough. Although to also be fair, if you know it’s a story you won’t enjoy, do the author and readers who might enjoy it a favor by just not buying or reviewing it with the sole intent of slamming the author.

Another thing I would tell you is that I’m not a one-dimensional author. While I’m best known for the In Her Name series, followed by the Harvest Trilogy, there’s more to me as a writer than those two universes. Perhaps you’ll always love those the best of all the books I may ever write, and that’s perfectly fine; believe it or not, they’re my favorite books, too. But Clint, if the In Her Name series is the only writing of mine that you enjoy, why go and buy something that you know from the blurb isn’t in that story line? Just so you can write a one-star review to vent your spleen?

How about this: rejoice with me that my muse has returned! Even if the first couple things out the door won’t be what you’ve been anticipating, celebrate that I’m writing again. Maybe trying lifting people up when good things happen in their lives, rather than slapping them down because they didn’t satisfy your own selfish expectations. Give it a try. You might like it.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Doug Clark

    I wait in anticipation for any new novels you write. Even a romance novel. You do you and to hell with naysayers.


  2. Tina Sheppard (Church of the Almighty Pit Bull on twitter)

    I haven’t gotten to know you by your work, Michael. But I really like YOU. I hope you know how much YOU are appreciated. I’m thrilled for you that your muse is back. Of course, she is a “she”. I know ‘a few’ good men like you. I already know Clint is not one of them. 💜

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks, Tina – appreciate it!! And if you do want to check out my stuff, just keep in mind that three of the novels are free. So you don’t lose anything but a little time to decide if you like them or not. 😁

  3. Diane Smith

    I agree with Doug. I don’t write books, but I make art with polymer clay. I know what it’s like to lose your muse and to have people criticize your work and your process. I am happy you have found your muse and can continue doing what you obviously love to do.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks, Diane! What do you make with the clay? It’s not something I can really do now that we’re on the road full-time, but I’ve taken an interest in someday taking up pottery. My wife and I love looking at (and sometimes buying, lol) pottery and ceramic art…

  4. Anne Palmer

    Well I just bought “The Ruins” and haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’m just delighted that you are writing again… I’ve missed you and your books. I usually buy everything you write, and although perhaps there has been a story line I didn’t like (although honestly I can’t remember which one, if any…) it’s your writing style I like. Some people miss that very salient point. Do you like how a writer writes? The story line can be fantastic, but if the writing is bad, I’m not going to finish the read. Happy to say that the only disappointment I’ve ever had with you was when your muse left your side. So glad she’s back! Keep writing, ignore the Trolls.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks for the kind words, Anne! And you make a great point: it really isn’t just the story line, it’s the “flavor” and style of the writing. I think a lot of folks don’t consciously realize that’s a lot of what goes into a story. And I do hope you enjoy The Ruins – it’s a bit off the trail for me, but that’s what my muse wanted, and so that’s what I did, lol!

  5. Neal

    please let me know what clint no last name has written so I can compare his writing to your excellent work. What? he hasn’t written anything? ever?, except a few nasty comments about your work. I think the hardest part of being a published author is ignoring the idiots who bitch and moan about one thing or another. While I have missed your writing the past few years, the why of your struggles to get your creative abilities under control is something we should try to understand and not criticize you for. BTW, for those of us who believe in science, preachy stuff about how much trouble our planet is in is not dreck. the science/truth/history deniers are just cult idiots.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Neal – thanks for that! Normally if someone pans something, if I do see it I first try to see if there’s some meat to it, as some folks who don’t like a story do offer insights that can be helpful. But when someone like Clint comes along…that was a little much!

  6. Ron Baird

    Welcome back Michael. Like Clint I eagerly await finding out about Reza. I have loved those stories and read them all at least three times. I totally disagree with Clint however in abusing you because I didn’t like the way you write. There are not many books I have left unfinished in my 74 years on this planet. I will get Ruins from Amazon and read it. I have recently upgraded my house with solar panels, extra wall and loft cladding an an air to heat source heating system. I recycle as much as possible and drive my car more frequently. If Clint in under 30 years of age, he will suffer from climate change in the future. I hope he doesnt but all the signs are getting worse year on year. Looking forward to having you back in my life Michael. Well done and onwards and upwards.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks, Ron! And while I refuse anymore to argue with people like Clint over climate catastrophe (I’ll never change his mind), it’s plainly before us. And it’s not just something that will affect younger folks (I’m a bit behind you at 60 now!): it’s affecting many people right now, today. The fires, the flooding, the storms, crops failing, etc., etc. The evidence is overwhelming, but some people just refuse to see…

  7. Discovered “In Her Name” while recovering from a head-on collision leaving me with a broken wrist. I blazed through the first six books and am looking forward to the next three, then “Ruins” then everything else you’ve written. WOW! I love finding authors like you who share my sci fi obsession. Poor Clint, what a misery not to be open to the gift of great stories, whatever the genre. Loved your spot-on response to his ignorance and nastiness. BTW, if your muse happens to bump into my muse, ask her to kick my muse in the butt and tell her to come home. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a long, long time. Thanks you for sharing your talent with all of us. Live long and prosper and keep writing.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Yikes! Sorry you were in a collision like that! We recently got clobbered, and around 2006 or so had a head-on that totaled our van, although fortunately in both cases there weren’t serious injuries (although the head-on resulted in some damage to my right wrist). And Clint…maybe i was being unfair to him. Some people just can’t help themselves. It’s like another guy on Wattpad who’s checked in periodically to heckle me for not finishing Red Legion (yet): I figure he really must be one of my biggest fans to come out every once in a while and dump some vitriol on me. That’s caring, lol! As for your muse, I’m sure you’ve tried just sitting down to paint and nothing’s happened. That’s how I’ve been these last several years. I think the catalyst may be some major change in your life: my muse returned almost to the day after I resigned from my last job. So you might think about that – is there something in your life that’s keeping her (him?) away?

  8. John Ricks

    I am so glad your muse has returned. I remembered her being a fickle heifer while following you on Wattpad while you were writing RED LEGION, and also hoped for it to be finished, but would NEVER have approached it like Clint did.
    I just started re-reading IN HER NAME after several years, and scrolling past it in my Kindle library thinking, “I need to re-read that”. I did enjoy reading that series.
    Good luck, and give your muse champagne and chocolate to stay in her good will. I really look forward to reading Reza’s adventures.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks, John! Also, I just started re-reading the series and am doing just an informal “read-along” if folks want to join in. If you check the blog link here, you’ll see the info – come join us!

      1. John Ricks

        I saw that post, I follow you on Facebook, that’s what finally caused me to start re-reading the series. I’m a little ahead, finished chapters 1-11 last night.

  9. Kaleb

    I spent an entire day trying to remember your books yesterday. I finally found it after sifting for hours. I was wondering if you’d ever do an audio book version of your work i think it’d be wonderful to listen to, I used to listen to all of the “in her name” books on android. ios is a bit limited it seems. I truly love your work, I’m lucky to have been able to have heard your stories. If you are interested in doing it, i’d volunteer and do it for free, though it may take me awhile to get it as good as i possibly can. I can do alot of voices fairly well. i’d be willing to try at any rate.

    1. Michael R. Hicks

      Thanks, Kaleb – I REALLY appreciate the offer, but for a variety of reasons I’ll have to decline. But this does have me thinking that during one of our “rest stops” at my dad’s in Phoenix, I may dedicate the time to taking another crack at it. If I can at least get ONE book done and published, that would be a great catalyst for getting the rest on their way, too…

  10. Kaleb

    Hey, no problem Michael its entirely understandable. Yeah, just doing one would at least give you a better perspective on the whole process, it could even be fun. The best part about it is conveying it your way too. Can’t imagine a better candidate then you. Thanks for replying, its like i just got a response from a celebrity or something, pretty cool. Anyways, good luck!!

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