My first book was published in early 2012.
(December, 2011, GLORY BE was already being shipped! Happy book birthday, Glory!)
And I got a lot of excellent advice.
One thing my already-published friends said: Don't read reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Don't even look!
My editor said something even more comforting. "Long after those reviews are forgotten, your books will still be in libraries being read by kids who will love them." (I paraphrase, but that's the gist and it was just the thing a new author needed to hear. Did I mention, my editor is brilliant?)
So I don't read reviews unless I stumble onto Amazon or Goodreads.
Sometimes I'm glad to run into a review. Sometimes I want to avert my eyes!
Today, I happened upon a lovely review of MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG.
And it made me think that I seem to be drawn to redeemable bullies. (Hello, Willis DeLoach!)
Recently I read something one of my favorite middle-grade authors, Leslie Connor, wrote in answer to a question from the National Book Award committee which had nominated a truly terrific novel of hers- THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE:
(Apologies to Leslie if I don't have her exact quote. But I love the message and hope I have it right.)
"The NBA asked me what I learned by writing this story. Part of my answer was about my own misconception about bullies. I always thought they acted out of feelings of being unloved or fearful. But a social worker told me that bullies act out of an inflated sense of entitlement. Recent days have made me sure she is right."
Helpful advice, right?
Basically, all our characters are made up of many varied, often conflicting parts. But if you dig deep enough, there's a reason a character acts a certain way. The author's job is to understand and (hopefully) make that part of the character's personality and motivation.
Here's the review from Amazon, if you're interested-