Writers beware. This warning is for you.

Henry Ward Beecher has a lesson for us all.
Henry Ward Beecher has a lesson for us all.

HE WAS A FIERY PREACHER, Henry Ward Beecher was.

But he didn’t preach fire and brimstone.

He preferred love, particularly God’s love.

He traveled to the pulpits of America a long time ago.

And when he was gone, you could still feel the presence of Henry Ward Beecher standing in your midst.

His words cut deep.

His message could sear your soul.

You may not have liked what he said.

You may not have liked the way he said it.

But one thing was for certain.

You never forgot it.

He was for God.

He was against sin.

But he was never against mankind having a good time.

He once preached: “Man was made for enjoyment.”

He fought alongside the temperance movement.

Enjoyment obviously did not mean hard liquor.

He supported women’s suffrage.

He violently opposed slavery.

At the time, some said, Henry Ward Beecher was recognized as the most famous man in America.

If not, he was the most outspoken.

He told a story once.

It was meant for preachers.

Writers should pay special attention.

Whether he realized it or not, he might have been talking to us.

He said: When I preach, I station a Deacon at the back of the room.

I give the Deacon a long, sharp-pointed stick.

The Deacon has one job.

If any man in my congregation goes to sleep while I’m preaching, the Deacon has been told to walk down the aisle with that long stick.

And I expect him to do one thing.

I’ve told him to poke the preacher.

If anybody goes to sleep, it’s my fault.

Hear that, writers?

If anyone reads your novel and doesn’t like the story, it’s not the reader’s fault.

You are the problem.

If the novel’s hook doesn’t grab a reader’s attention from the first paragraph – or at least from the front page – it’s your problem.

If the reader doesn’t believe your plot, it’s your problem.

If the reader thinks your dialogue is boring, it’s your problem.

If the reader doesn’t like your characters, it’s your problem.

If the reader grows weary of your liberal usage of four-letter words, it’s your problem.

If the reader criticizes your typos, it’s your problem.

So the next time you receive a one-star or two-star review, don’t get mad.

Don’t get even.

Maybe the reviewer isn’t treating you as unfairly as you think.

Maybe the reviewer has simply walked down the aisle with a long, sharp-pointed stick and poked the writer.

Conspiracy of Lies is the second novel in my Ambrose Lincoln novel. If you read it and want to poke the writer with a sharp stick, I won’t like it, but I understand.

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