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July 12, 2009


Shannon Morris

I can't imagine how tough it must be to get 'icky' reviews that make you feel so...'icky'. The whole thing is just..'icky'. But I hope that the bad feelings dont' linger long. Once piece of advice from one mother to another-when the 'ickie' hit take a subtle little gander into the shiny eyes of one your babies. When I do that...everything else just goes away. And just so you know, your readers don't give a !@##$%%$$^ what the reviwers say. Take that you nasty,icky, literary reviewers. You won't get the best of Shannon Hale! No you won't!!!! Or the rest of us either.


Sorry for the long reply, but I guess I just felt strongly about this.

I totally understand how you feel (on a much smaller scale). Putting something out for others to read is always difficult. To work so hard on something and have others not appreciate it is always difficult and writing is something that's so personal that it's hard not to take any reviews personally. (I'm in grad school and I know that when my professors read my work I'm always nervous. I'm also a teacher, so I can relate this to how my students may feel at times.)

All of that being said, I loved _The Actor and The Housewife_. Okay, I've pretty much loved everything that you've written, but I loved this book in a different way than your other books. I agree with the review by Mette Ivie Harrison in that regular romance readers may not be happy with the ending, but I think that the story is true and real and human. I'm not a Mormon housewife or mother of four (although, yes, I am Mormom), but I could relate to Becky, the main character, to her feelings, and to her actions.

I think the book stays true to the nature of love and it keeps the story and the characters more realistic to me. The writing was amazing at showing something truly difficult--what love is and and how it looks in real life.

Although some may write bad reviews, I have to say that I'm personally grateful to have read the book and to have experienced the characters and the story. I know you're not trying to get compliments, but, like I said, I feel strongly about this.

So, thanks for writing this story and getting it published. I know it's hard to take flack, but if that means that I had a chance to read the book, I appreciate it.


(I know your previous post wasn't necessarily connected with this book, but I just had to vent I guess.)


Personally I don't really understand the point of reviews. When I was in film school we had to write a paper on every film screened and we were NEVER allowed for that paper to be a review. (Seriously, it was an instant "F")


To sum up hours of professor lectures: because a review is nothing more than a statement of YOUR opinion. It's meaningless.

Instead we were required to treat the movie like a work of art and analyze it from an artistic standpoint.

I wish the professional world would do the same thing. Anything creative: books, movies, paintings, photographs--they're all works of art (for the most part anyway) so to break them down and rip them apart simply because you personally didn't appreciate them is ridiculous.

But that's just me.

Personally I have enjoyed every single one of your books immensely. I also love Mette Ivie Harrison's books, partially because they remind me of yours, but also because they're wonderful in their own right. And, I think any reviewer who disagrees with me has terrible taste. So there. :-)


I am thinking maybe being a writer is not the best choice for me...I have story in mind, have a good part of it written...but I don't take criticism well at all! Even constructive! It's always been a problem of mine, if someone has a criticism at all (negative or constructive) it means they think I could have or should have done something better or different. As a secretary, I had one of those I worked for telling me (and I dearly loved her, she was like a second mom) that she thought my work was great, but I had more in me. She saw my potential.

So now I sit, cowered and afraid, that no matter how much work I put into something, it will never be my best work. And I guess that's true, the word "best" is not the same as "perfect." But as you said, just being published is a good reason not to complain! If you're good enough to be published be grateful and get over the bad reviews! Actually I don't know if bad reviews from book critics would matter as much as someone I know and love and respect the opinion of telling me, "You can do better, Jill. Stop skating along." They truly know our potential. Though it would be upsetting and frustrating if a critic is making comments about your book that are absurd! Also hearing that you rewrote your first published work Goose Girl 30 times scares me, because I am working on my first book and I've rewritten the first section once already! But that's what you have to do in writing. Practice. And like just about everything, as we practice, we improve. Line up line, we improve. And even if no one else can see the work you put into it, you, at least, know that you polished it and worked at it until you were pleased with it. Or mostly pleased with it.

Thanks, Shannon, for your books, and for this website that we can have some medium to communicate with you and know you, albeit in a digital distant friendship!

By the way, you look really familiar to me. We lived in Utah for eight years...but naw, I am probably just thinking of someone else!

Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

It does stink when people criticize your hard work - and not only criticize but really pick it apart. But we, your readers, really have the last word, and we LOVE your books. Every single one of them. So there, icky reviewers. :)


Have a cookie :)


It's good to look at the larger picture. There's nothing you can do about reviews, but they are a fact of life in the publishing business.

With the Actor and the Housewife, I think the response was a bit inevitable because you're writing about a touchy subject. Some people are just going to reject it because of what it is, and not what you actually say. That you did reach so many others despite that is a mark of success!

The most popular—or moving—book might not be the one with the most reviews, but the one that gets the most reactions. People gasp and say, "That can't be true! Another person I met said...!" and they look it up and the chain keeps going: but no matter who reads it, those with open hearts will be changed by it.

I admire you for your honesty.

Emily B

You know what? Shannon, you're awesome, and no reviewer with a bug down his/her neck can ever change that factor of complete, total and utter coolness, so just forget about them,those people with issues, plenty of sane people love your books already!!! (although, I'm not claiming to be completely sane, but...)You rock, and don't forget that!

Dr. Sallie N. Cheinsteen

I don't know if you read all these comments... you get a lot. I am really impressed though, that you can be grateful for every review.. I probably wouldn't be. I reread Goose Girl this week, and most of all yesterday. Thanks to you, my dear Shannon, I stayed up until 4:25 in the morning... now tell me if that isn't a good review. I don't stay up till 4:25 in the morning for nothing. It was absolutely beautiful.

Emma H.

Its weird. People have such totally different tastes. They can hate a book or adore it, despise it or absolutely worship it. Reviews can be downright stupid sometimes. But just keep telling yourself that they are just jealous, and don't deserve to read your books. Seriously, enough fans love them to enough for all the envious reviewers in the world.

L.T. Elliot

I'm very proud of you saying "Thank You." I know that's hard but it's one of the things I admire about you the most. You've got class, Shannon Hale. I know as a reader and fan that my admiration of you is not misplaced. Thank you for that. I'm very, very glad for the wonderful support you've had from friends and those who really understand. Your fans support you too. Just know that we think you're pretty darn great.


I'm not sure what else to say but that you're a stud! I've read both of your posts about the reviews and I'm mad that someone ripped your book up and I think it's awesome that you're handling it so well. People can be so mean/dumb.

I wish I was a good writer (like you:) so that I could express how much your blog brings to my life, but since I'm not, I'll just say thanks! I think you're wonderful and I am so glad that I have this connection to one of my very favorite authors. It's really wonderful of you to let us peek into your thoughts and life. Thanks for brightening my day with your talent, wit, and for just being you!


You have got a lot of long (and good) comments to read on this post so I simply want to say I agree 100% with everything Mette said, and I am glad she wrote it because I don't have the talent of expressing my feelings through writing.


I <3 your books. Just think about all these fans next time you get a bad review.
Or, since you have to be so grateful for your bad reviews, let us fans handle them! We'll tell them just what they need to know... :)
I've read The Princess and the Hound before.


What I'm wondering is what some of the critics didn't like about it. I mean, really? It was totally awesome. What is not to love?

Aah, I adore Mette Ivie Harrison! Her books are great. :D

Je Reve

Critics are critics for a reason, and often that reason is skewed in their reviewerness.

Does that make sense?


Just as readers have the right to discontinue reading a book they don't like, perhaps writers should have the same option regarding reviews. (So the review falls from your hands? Eh, let it fall.) Good luck with Daisy!


Have you ever read Corrie ten Boom's "The Hiding Place"? It was an awesome story about two sisters during the holocaust. (Yep, an awesome story about the holocaust...they do exist!)

Corrie's sister prompts her to pray and be thankful for everything, including the fleas. Corrie doesn't feel that she can be thankful for the fleas in their camp, but still says "Thank you" in her prayers for them. Later she learns that even the fleas served as a blessing.(I won't spoil any it more than that. You should read it!)

So whenever something bad happens to me I have to tell myself, "Be thankful for the fleas!"

Amy DeMordaunt

The Actor and The Housewife was completely entertaining for me. Humor, love, friendship, sorrows, joys--it was all balanced, lovely and fun. Bizarre! And it's a story, just a story. With amazingly accurate details on being a mother, wife and friend. I loved it, just as I have loved all your books (except Austenland, but that's ok, it's only an opinion). Thanks for writing for those of us who love to read!


I don't know if you need yet another "Your the coolest" post, but here it is anyway --

I just finished Actor and the Housewife, about 2/3 through I wasn't sure I was going to like it and I told my mother, "This is one of the strangest books I've ever read." In the end however I loved it. It was an odd, but entirely lovely little book, and I continue to admire your talent and humor.

In other words - you're the coolest!


Ahh. Reviews. You should know that for every stinky (hippo poo) review, you have hundreds of fans recommending the "stinky" book to their friends and family because they loved it so much.

I lost sleep thinking about "The Actor and the Housewife" after I lost sleep reading it because I didn't want to put it down. But it never sent me to the kitchen to make muffins, if you know what I mean.


Im new here. I just found out you had a blog and my belly did flips I was so happy!! I loved your Bayern books so much that I read them each 3 times. I havent read the fourth one yet but I plan to do so very soon. I would just like to say you are an AMAZING writer. In my oppinion your prob up there with Cornelia Funke, Christopher Poalini and E.D. Baker(These are all very good writers and I think everyone should read at least one book from each of them!! just an oppinion:). I really really liked your books and hope you keep up the good work. Also in my oppinion I think that you shouldnt give a **** of what other ppl think of your outrageuosely great books(is my messege clear?)as long as you think they were great well, then the were great.


Thank you for taking the time to blog. It makes me feel better to know that amazing authors still feel awful about their writing sometimes because I sure always do. I'm always encouraged your blerbs. :)


I know this is off topic but -I just read Princess Academy today and I had to comment.

My friends like to joke that I am dead inside. I generally do not cry at movies -or at books. But the chapter with the mothers story -yeah, I teared up.

I read a blog post the other day from an author who basically said; don't give me a hard time for repeating characters and plots. I'm trying to have a career here. I don't have the time.

Then I was looking on Jane Yolens blog where she talked about the difference between a writer and an author. You are an author. You are what I aspire to be. Your books have a power to them and will last. Certainly on my bookshelves. I don't generally stalk writers like this -but I had to.

If we were friends, I would give you my last brownie. Well, my second to last. But I would include the milk.


I think reviews have a skewd job. They also have different tastes, so you can please everybody. The fans are what make you and we are the buy the books and reread the books. I'm a mormon mom with 5 kids and not a writer in anyway execept my blog. I would drop on by with a bag of Dove chocolates...don't worry about reviews. Its the fans that matter.


Negative reviews can totally be good. For instance, one time I read a review on a book that was labeled as "just as bad as a Tamora Pierce novel", so, of course, I bought it, and, of course, it was great (just don't remember which one it was now). Man, Shannon, your books are as awful as the works of Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce. Shame, shame. LOL. (Also, those people who don't like your books probably have really big butts.)


That was marvolous. Beautiful. It's great to thank those who have no right to be thanked.


It's hard sometimes to look past formal reviews because of the weight their words are supposed to carry to the general public. But as can be found in talking with other readers, the reviewer themselves is really just another reader who has the enviable position of having their opinion count for more. Or not. I had heard a mix of good and bad with regards to Austenland, but wanted to decide for myself. I was so taken with it, that I've subsequently recommended it to every person I've come across. The book will speak for itself in the end. Keep up the great work!

Sara Weiss

ya i guess that every review is a good one (even thought you dont want to believe it sometimes) i guess you should be glad that they took the time to read it. but it sure can be very hard to take the bad reviews....


Mette's review is the one that convinced me that I really wanted to read A&H. I'm LDS, happily married with several kids and my best friend is...a woman. When I heard what A&H was about, I was somewhat skeptical. A book like has the potential to either soar or plummet. When I read Mette's review she "spoiled" just enough that I knew the book would turn out exactly right and I picked it up the next day. I loved how you captured so much of the life I love without making it seem melodramatic or insane. And you didn't make light of or make excuses for any of my religious beliefs. Well done.


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