Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bitch-a-Thon

THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY Joins Forces with WOMENADE to Help Others in Need

Folks that know me personally know that I’m a pretty laid back, fair-minded woman. It takes a lot to rankle my feathers, yet someone has recently managed to do just that when Kirkus Reviews dubbed THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY a… “bitch-a-thon.” Stop the presses! This is the same book that Publisher’s Weekly called “a sharp series debut.” This is the same book that left the reviewer from Deadly Pleasures declaring, “The Black Widow Agency needs to be franchised all over the country. I need a second book, NOW.”

As authors, we are all at the mercy of reviewers. Every author takes their lumps once in a while and hopefully the lumps are far and few in between the accolades. I’m a big girl and can handle the fact that not every reviewer is going to love my books. I’m happy to say that for the most part, the reviewers have liked THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY because it is unique and fun and shows four strong women using technology to even the playing field to bring justice to other women. I even think a lot of men will enjoy it, though I clearly didn’t write it for a male audience.

No, what I find most disturbing about the Kirkus review is that I seemed to have touched a sensitive nerve with the reviewer and they wanted to let me know it, albeit anonymously, since that is Kirkus Review’s policy (another point worthy of discussion). A bitch-a-thon? How about reviewing my writing style, the flow of the book, the pace, the plot? A bitch-a-thon? How about saying you didn’t find the characters realistic or you didn’t care for a twist at the end? Not one word referenced the writing.

When a reviewer, especially a reviewer from a major publication critiques a book, it should stay professional. Attack me professionally. Keep it at that level. Don’t gripe because you can’t handle a story about four strong women who join forces to take on a male-owned business that allows blatant sexual harassment of its female employees.

Four smart female characters of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, some of whom are in relationships with nice guys, turn the tables on some not-so-good guys. Four smart, funny female characters who are mothers, daughters, cyber wizards, ex-cops, chefs, chocolate lovers and hot flash sufferers, choose to help another woman after she loses custody of her daughter. That’s a bitch-a-thon? No, that’s just women helping each other out.

To prove my point that women joining together to help others is not a “bitch-a-thon” but a powerful force to be reckoned with, I’m hereby officially launching the “Bitch-a-Thon” campaign. For every BLACK WIDOW AGENCY book purchased between October 1, 2007 and October 1, 2008, I personally pledge to donate a portion of the profits to my local chapter of Womenade. If you’re not familiar with Womenade, it’s a national non-profit organization with chapters all over the country that provide grass roots assistance to neighbors in crisis or who have reached a stumbling block in their lives, without any red tape. Assistance can go towards things like groceries, automobile repairs, prescriptions and the like. Since this is a cause near and dear to the Black Widows’ big hearts, I hereby challenge everyone out there to spread the news about the “Bitch-A-Thon” campaign and let’s see if we can’t turn some sour lemons into lemonade and help a few folks along the way.

For more information about the “Bitch-A-Thon” campaign, please visit For more information about Womenade, please visit your local chapter’s website or the Greater Squamscott Womenade chapter at

I hope that Kirkus Reviews will see the good this can bring and make a donation as well.


Nina Wright said...

Felicia, welcome to the wonderful world of reviews! I cut my teeth on and toughened my skin with theatre reviews starting at the callow age of 22 when I became a professional actor. Some of the bad ones made me mad or made me cry and even temporarily shook my confidence, but I got over them fast. We have to!

As you noted, the bad ones are usually in the minority and may speak more about the reviewer than the reviewee. We can never know exactly what is going on in the head of the critic. As an actor, I realized that I might remind someone of an ex-wife or old girlfriend. Or the critic might have an axe to grind with the director or playwright. Who knows?

I always say that acting, directing and playwriting were great preparation for writing book-length fiction, and not just because they honed my literary sensibilities. They taught me to handle rejection, too, including the occasional wallop of a bad review. And let me tell you, there's no review more personal than a review of your acting performance because that is all and only about you as an individual: how you look, move, talk, etc.

Anyway, my credo for handling reviews is to not take any of them too seriously. I read them once, take what I think is helpful from the text--even if it's a groan of a laugh--and move on.

Felicia, I applaud your gutsy approach to life and writing. And I cheer you on!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

You go, girl!

Reviews, good, bad and puzzling, are part of this nutty business, but I applaud you for your very creative way of dealing with this bump in the road. I even blogged about it this morning on my personal blog.

Remember the old Cybil Shepherd sitcom, the one after Moonlighting? I recall one episode where a man called her a "bitch." She smiled sweetly at him and said "thank you."

Mark Terry said...

Well, we've had this discussion here before, but Kirkus has long been known as the "Mikey" of the book reviewing world: Let's give it to Mikey, he hates everything!

Jess Lourey said...

I'm sold. The book sounds fabulous.

Keith Raffel said...

Oh. Is bitch-a-thon a bad thing? What's the Harry Potter series but a wizard-a-thon? Jane Austen but a flirt-a-thon? Agatha Christie but a whodunnit-a-thon? You-know-who as a sex-a-thon? Bitch-a-thon sounds interesting to me.

Nina Wright said...

Back up, Keith. I gotta know: Who's the sex-a-thon? And is there only one??

Mark Terry said...

I think Keith got confused. He was probably talking about his memoir.

Felicia Donovan said...

Thanks to everyone for the support, especially Sue Ann, who encouraged me to make lemons into lemonade.

My point is that as authors, we're expected to be professional and produce the final manuscript on time, remember to bring the pens at signings, return e-mails even though we're tired - because we treat our authorship like the real job that it is. Reviewers should be held to the same standards and distance their personal feelings from their professional ones.

Yes, Keith, we're all eagerly awaiting your response...

Kate Thornton said...

I can't wait to buy this book!

And WOMENADE is such a worthy cause, I think a donation to them is in order too. As someone who is tired of hearing the word "bitch" anyway, count me in for support.

And the book sounds absolutely terrific.