Negativity #1: Reply Letter to a Hater

13 May

I am here to report on my first blog troll. He wasn’t hiding too well under the bridge and I’m ready to shine the light on him. Well, that is, without telling you his name. Instead of giving this troll the response he expects, I’m going to post his letter here and follow that up with my reply. Please enjoy.

This email came to me last week on a day where the world seemed to be pounding negativity and discouragement into my brain. I got a rejection letter, this email, and then had a really bad writers group experience which I’ll post about later. To deal with that negativity, I’m going to write about it and try to show that negativity is only what I make of it. I”m going to try to make these positive.

Before I get started, you should know that my most popular post on this blog has been my Book Club Reflection for The Light Between Oceans which I posted in January. For reasons unknown to me, a lot of people have looked this up in search engines and I’ll get 10+ hits per day on the post (which for me is usually about 20% of my total views). This email was in reaction to that post.

Because I am a physicist, my wife thought I’d like The Light Between the Oceans. It was horrible. 
Wife went to her book club and picked up an article by you.
As for the cover, the picture is not of the type of light described in the book.  I quote the wikipedia(which you should read)
In recent times, many Fresnel lenses have been replaced by rotating aerobeacons which require less maintenance. 
That’s what you see: the cylindrical body of an aerobeacon,  not the figure of a man. 

Also, you treat the personnae of the book as real people when they and the plot is all made up.
I tolerate writers and English majors to fumble the science in their books, bu t you fumble the English language. 
For one, Janus, was a male god, not a goddess. (Learn some Latin). 
English has a verb “to bear”. 
NOT “bared”.

Short, sweet, and aimed at the heart. I’m not sure what this man (and it is a man, in case of any confusion, based on the name) hoped to accomplish with this letter. Maybe he was trying to be helpful and point out a spelling mistake? Or maybe he hoped to be a troll and discourage me. Either way, I’m not concerned. If I were to reply to him, here’s the letter I would send.


Dear Sir,

Thank you for sending me a letter on my blog, Taking on a World of Words. I’m sorry that you did not enjoy the book The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  I found it to be a very thought-provoking and an enjoyable read and it seems your wife enjoyed it as well. I’m glad she could find a book she enjoyed.

I want to again thank you for letting me know that my post is being distributed at book club meetings. This is probably the most flattering news I’ve yet to receive about my blog. I’m glad that the conversation I had with the ladies and gentlemen of my book group can help inspire discussion in other groups. I’m very touched and so glad to hear this.

Cover Image via

Cover Image via

To your point on the cover, I’m still of the opinion that there is a man in the lighthouse. I looked this up on the internet and was unable to find anything conclusive so this is only my opinion. I see what appears to me to be an arm on the right side of the image and it appears that the figure has a hand on its hip because there’s a gap of light coming through the middle. That’s part of the reason I argue that it’s a person and not a lens. I looked up the page you referenced and I don’t think the image looks a lot like the aerobeacon, which is much more cylindrical. If it is lighthouse equipment at all, I think it’s more likely to be the Fresnel lens as this and the cover image share (in my opinion) a much more similar shape.

I think the main reason I treat the characters and plot as if they were real is because I’m a writer. When I write a character, he or she becomes very real to me. I sometimes wonder if I”m passing this person on the street. It’s almost like the film Stranger than FictionIf you haven’t had a chance to see this movie, I believe it’s one of Will Ferrell’s best works. Because I see my characters so vividly, it helps me to see any fictional character as clearly as if they were my neighbors. If they didn’t seem real, then the writer did a poor job of making believable characters. I think the plot could happen and that’s what’s intriguing about the novel. I referenced a real case in the post you read, the Baby Jessica Case, which happened in a town near where I live. This case speaks about who a child’s ‘real’ parents are, much in the same way the book does. If the setting seemed at all unbelievable, that would again reflect poorly on the author. However, I think Ms. Stedman did a wonderful job crafting believable characters and a conceivable plot and that it’s a tribute to her that I can speak  of them as if they were real.

Thank you for pointing out those simple mistakes that I overlooked. I appreciate your attention to detail.

I’ll close this letter the same way I close all my posts as I encourage everyone to find the writer inside themselves.

Until next time, write on.

-Sam A. Stevens


11 Responses to “Negativity #1: Reply Letter to a Hater”

  1. Ashley May 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM #

    Wow. I don’t understand what possesses people sometimes. Do they wake up in the morning with the goal of scanning the web to find someone to berate, by flexing their Internet muscles? Anyone can find courage, rather cowardice, hiding behind venomous words. I understand people have differing opinions, but that’s what’s so wonderful about the book blogging sphere. I love having discussions with other bibliophiles, whether they agree with me or not. Thankfully I have yet to have a negative experience, but I think you handled this negativity (as criticism is supposed to be constructive, which this was not) with grace. I hope you have a better week!


    • Sam May 13, 2014 at 2:42 PM #

      I think trolls do what they do because it’s anonymous. I wanted to show how we as bloggers and writers can turn what a troll says into a positive thing. Of course I was angry right after I got this letter. How dare someone say such things to me! But the more I looked at it, the more I saw it as a compliment. I don’t mind book discussions if they’re two sided and I refused to let this one stay one sided. I have to get my say as well.


  2. Ashlee May 13, 2014 at 2:45 PM #

    Geesh, haters be hating! You know what I want to say to that man (besides a friendly reminder that everyone is entitled to their opinion and we don’t need to go around bashing opinions with other opinions)? How dare you not treat characters as real people! That’s a shame for any reader to admit.

    I get to select the novel for my book club in June and I’m going with this one solely based off of the review you posted . I loved what you shared and I think it sounds like an interesting read. And the cover image totally includes a man in the lighthouse. Anyone can see that. 😉


    • Sam May 13, 2014 at 3:06 PM #

      I think that’s the line that most bothered me as well! I always treat characters as real people. I can dislike a character the same way I dislike a co-worker: I still have to deal with you and keep moving forward with the project/plot!
      The book is wonderful and was great for a book club discussion because the plot is so controversial. I hope the discussion goes well! Please let me know.


  3. lynnsbooks May 13, 2014 at 5:23 PM #

    That really bugs me! Why do people have to be so hateful and negative. There are plenty of bloggers out there and there are millions of books – we can’t all like the same reads or share the same opinions but there really isn’t any reason to be so rude about it. And, actually, I thought there was a man standing in the lighthouse too!!! Take that troll! Lynn 😀


    • Sam May 13, 2014 at 6:37 PM #

      I strongly think it’s a man. If so, the cover is an amazing representation of the book. I hope I don’t have to deal with any more of these trolls soon!


  4. readingcook May 13, 2014 at 6:23 PM #

    What an ass he is! I find it interesting that he told you the book was horrible but gave absolutely no thoughts to back up his opinion. He just went about nit-picking and rambling, adding not a bit of substance to the discussion. You didn’t deserve to be the recipient of his mean spirited rant, but you handled it well. Your response, like your reviews and book club reflections, was well thought out and effective in terms of driving home your point. To quote you, “write on”!


    • Sam May 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM #

      I’m so glad that you can identify with ‘write on.’ As writers, we’re so frequently discouraged by trolls and negative reviews. We have to find a way to channel it and make things positive. This man cared enough to respond, even if it was negative. I sparked a nerve somehow. I’m focusing on what he said about his wife’s book club. I’m so honored that my post is being shared!


      • readingcook May 13, 2014 at 8:06 PM #

        Excellent point! Your writing most assuredly deserves to be shared, so I guess I should thank him for making you aware of an instance of just that. 🙂


  5. heartofsultana May 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM #

    I love this post, not because some rude guy wrote an unwarranted and spiteful negative comment on your blog, but because of how well you handled it! What a wonderful, positive spin on things 🙂 He should know that his negativity was quite unsuccessful!

    Also, he says you fumble the English language? I think he may want to consider reading through his own comments once more. Plus, by FAR, you do not fumble, you stride through gracefully 🙂


    • Sam May 14, 2014 at 12:15 PM #

      I thought his comments were really ironic as well. I was tempted to spell/grammar check his letter back, but I think it speaks for itself.


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