“Come in and try the worst coffee one woman on Trip Advisor had in her life.” This is what a chalkboard sign outside of a cafe said, and even though it’s been years since I first saw this photo, I still think about it.

There will always, always, always be people who don’t like what you make. As an author, the way you react to negative book reviews says a lot about you as a person.

I’ve seen authors cry and vent and act like the world is coming to an end after getting a negative book review, and I…

I told my dermatologist I had blackheads. I didn’t know what the deal was. Was it my medicine? My moisturizer? Where were these disgusting things coming from?

After examining my face, he said, “You don’t have blackheads. You just have normal acne. Sometimes they look like blackheads, but that’s not what you have. In fact, blackheads are very hard to get rid of.”

I scrunched my eyebrows together. “Okaaaaay.” Then I pulled out ole reliable that I love to use on doctors: “Are you sure?”

He smiled and said: “Women love to get under big bright lights and magnifying glasses…

I tell myself it started with Lauren on December 11, 2018, but the reality is: it started sooner than that. I suppose it was just her death that threw me against a wall and left me there to bleed.

It started in March 2017 when my cousin Chris died of a heart attack. I argued with my mom over who would tell my sister, because I knew how close she was to him and I couldn’t bear to break the news to her. I drove my sister to Covington, Louisiana, to meet the rest of my family for the funeral…, the online dating site, recently featured the funniest commercial I’ve seen in a really long time. Satan gets a “match” with a woman named 2020. They go on a date, and it’s love at first sight. They steal toilet paper, have a picnic in an empty football stadium, and even watch balls of fire rain down on our world. My favorite part was when they took a selfie in front of a literal dumpster fire.

At the end of the commercial, the tagline is: “Make 2020 your year.” But then a puff of smoke changes “2020” to “2021.”


How do you know if your writing is good?

How do you know if what you’ve created actually matters?

How do you know if people will want to read your story?

That’s the struggle for every writer, I think. We all have moments when we think, What if no one likes my book?

It’s a bit traumatizing. You start second-guessing yourself. You start imagining the negative reviews before the book is even published. You may even stop writing for fear of the worst: people thinking your writing is garbage.

I want you to read this review from Goodreads before I…

I sit on the balcony of the twelfth story, where I can hear the waves crash onto the shore. The sun is in a good mood, shining brightly. My chair is comfortable and ergonomic, and my table is just the right height. My laptop is open, and my coffee cup is full. I take a sip of the freshly ground coffee, with toasted marshmallow mocha creamer because it’s always in stock here. My internet connection is speedy, and my laptop is fully charged. No visitors to entertain, no doggies to corral. It’s time to write, and my writing space is…

I was told I couldn’t write my research paper on my grandpa because I didn’t have enough sources to cite. In other words, he wasn’t a well-known figure.

I was accused of plagiarism when submitting an essay for my school’s yearbook because “it was written too well” to be mine.

I was told I couldn’t graduate one year early from high school because it’s too hard and I wouldn’t be able to maintain my GPA.

I was told I had to have four math credits, or my college wouldn’t accept my application; and I was reminded, “It doesn’t matter that…

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I cried on the sofa at midnight.
At the booth in my favorite restaurant.
In the parked car on a bright day.
In the arms of loved ones.
In my bed alone.

I’m sorry I shed tears for you.
And you too.
For the things you have said.
For the things you have done.

I’m sorry I let your words slice my skin.
Cutting deeper at every syllable.
Until the blood flowed like a stream.

I’m sorry you’re miserable
And take it out on me. …

You’ve inevitably seen the “What is your why?” articles or calls to action if you’re a writer, yes? I love those! There must be a why in your life: Why did you become a writer? Why did you choose science fiction? Why did you start with this particular plot? Why do you continue to work on the same story for a decade?

But what about the how?

Writers will talk about the why all day. We love to tell you what inspires us and what drives us and what makes us stay awake until 3:00 a.m. …

If you’ve published a book, do you remember what it felt like to hold it in your hands for the very first time?

My BFF, Janey Merry, wrote a children’s picture book about a sloth who is tired of being the slowest one in school. I’m trying to help her reach her publishing goal so she can hold Ready, Set, Sloth! in her hands for the first time — so she can smell that new-book smell and cry sweet tears at seeing her characters in full color.

I have authors who have been where she’s been — three years in…

Shayla Raquel

Editor. Author. Marketer. The 10 Commandments of Author Branding | The Suicide Tree | The Rotting | Pre-Publishing Checklist.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store