Choose Your Words Wisely

I’ve been thinking about this thing that happened to me at Emerald City Comicon. I started to post about it on Twitter but then realized it was upsetting me more than I was aware of at first, so now I’m just writing a full post about it so I can let it go and move on.


I went to my very first convention to promote my children’s book, Piggy and Pug, up in Seattle two weekends ago. I had a great time meeting a bunch of kids and adults who were excited to get my book. Some people already owned it and brought it from home for me to sign, some read a copy I had out on my table and loved it so they got one for themselves, and some came to get a copy after hearing me talk about it in panels or after hearing me read it in the Family HQ area. I met teachers who were excited to read it to their students, librarians who were excited to get a copy for their local or school library, and new parents who were building a library for their little ones to read it when they got older. I had been promoting it online for about 6 weeks by this point, but the outpouring of support at ECCC was so completely unexpected. It was incredible to meet all of these people who were excited to take home something I made. Instead of writing about that whole experience again, you can just read about it (and see the adorable pics) here.

So here’s a thing I am very aware of; we can’t please everyone. There’s always going to be critics who just want to voice their opinion on why you made a thing that doesn’t appeal to them therefore, no one else should like it. I know this is going to happen, and I am okay with it. I wrote the book that 5 year old me would have loved to have read, and that 48 year old me happens to really enjoy as well. As it turns out, others seem to enjoy this book I wrote and want to have one of their own. Great!

Near the end of the day that Sunday, I had a few minutes where no one was at my table, so my friend and I were sitting together and talking when a woman approached us, looked up at my banner and said “Wheaton. Are you related to Wil Wheaton?” I looked up at her, smiled, said hello, and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Anne. Yes, I’m related to Wil. He’s my husband.”

This woman told me she’s an author, and has a table nearby, as she pointed across the walkway from where I was seated. I had been super busy the whole weekend so I never made it around the convention floor to see other booths or meet anyone else there. The only time I ever got up was to go to a panel or race to the bathroom real quick. “Bummer” I thought to myself, “but it was nice of her to come introduce herself!”

The woman continued speaking, I continued to smile, listening to her as she then says “I was trying to figure out why you were so busy all weekend and now it makes sense. It’s because you’re married to Wil Wheaton.”

Wow. What a gut punch.

This author had not read my book. She hadn’t even looked at the copy that was on the table, left there for anyone to peruse through. She wasn’t there as little kids told me how much they loved my story, or when adults were there to thank me for writing something like this. She just decided the only reason anyone was there to buy something I wrote was because of who I was married to.

I can’t even remember exactly what I said to her after that. All I remember is I continued to smile and be friendly, which was REALLY HARD TO DO, until she eventually went back to her table. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? So my first impression of this author-lady is she has no idea what I wrote because she didn’t look at it and instead, she made a snap judgment of something I worked super fucking hard on for a year and a half of my life that no one could possibly enjoy on its own merits. And sadly, now I’m not interested in reading anything she’s written because our only interaction was this petty thing she did to me, and that’s a crummy way to feel.

I’m not sure if this type of experience is normal for other authors, or if our country is just so angry about everything that people have lost that brain filter thing that stops them from being shitty to other people, or what. What I do know is holding onto someone else’s unhappiness definitely isn’t good, and writing this down has helped me tremendously to let the crappy thing this woman did to me go. I’m going to go back to thinking about all of the positive that came out of that weekend instead. TAKE THAT, BRAIN.

Mom-voice here to remind you we’re all just doing the best we can in this world. I know we can all have good days and bad but please, for the sake of humanity, try a little kindness when you’re interacting with others. You’ll be glad you did.




52 thoughts on “Choose Your Words Wisely

  1. Awww Anne. Yeah, she might be jealous that your name provides a recognition she can’t get innately, but if your product didn’t please people your name wouldn’t make it please people. You have to live with a side of Fame that is hurtful; the assumption that you didn’t work for anything that succeeds for you. Or that you wouldn’t succeed without the help. You do know better, but pointing it out as she did was unkind especially since she wasn’t willing to review the product. We tend to absorb negatives that speak to our insecurities as if they are truths. They aren’t. You worked incredibly hard on your book. I’m proud of you. Some people like to take other people’s joy away and they don’t even know they are doing it. I’m sorry you had to experience that.

  2. Damn that IS a gut-punch and very petty. Sorry that happened to you after a really positive day. I’ve never really understood why some people have to jealously hurt someone else to feel superior. But when things like this happen to me, I imagine their lives must be very small for them to feel that this kind of behavior is OK… and then I feel a lot better 🙂

  3. You created a beautiful book, and people have shared how much they love it and what it means to them. Some people feel the need to stomp on the achievements of others to rationalize their own failures, and her comment was cruel and inappropriate.

  4. Clearly she was jealous and didn’t do as well as you. Like Danine said, she probably didn’t know how hurtful that was – which is still no excuse. You were the shining light of the convention and no one can take that away from you!

  5. Maybe people were first introduced to you by Wil but by now people including me are fans of you. Why? Because you are funny, compassionate and talented in your own way. Sounds like she has sour grapes because your booth had more traffic and she can’t admit to herself that people wanted your product and not hers. Screw her!

    1. This comment sums it up nicely. I came for the Wil, but I stay for the Anne!!! (You are both thoughtful, compassionate and talented creative people)

    2. Well said and the truth. I followed Wil because I read his tweets about his animals on AfterElton. I found Anne through him(and his commentary on their funny dogs and cats!).
      Anne is a bright funny caring individual in her own right, who advocates for compassion for people and animals.
      I don’t read @AnneWheaton because of Wil . I read and react to her words for themselves!

  6. Maybe she was also feeling insecure because your table was crowded and maybe hers wasn’t? I mean, she told you that she noticed that. Instead of saying “I guess my books aren’t a good fit for this crowd”, she made herself feel better by tearing you down. It wasn’t about you, but her trying to find a reason to make herself feel better. Some people are wired that way.

    I design fabric and I made a dress from one of my designs. I wore it to an event and two ladies that I knew came up to ask me all about it and ask questions about my dye technique. When I explained that it was digitally printed and that I used a computer, one of them looked and the other and said in a loud voice “That’s cheating!” and went on to tell me that what I did wasn’t real art because the computer did it and I was taking away from what real artists did. I was devastated (and more than a bit angry.) That was 10 years ago and I still think about it.

  7. Oh, wow, that is super petty! I’m impressed you were able to carry on being your smiling and friendly self in the face of that gut-punch. I totally understand carrying that with you, but I do hope that writing that out here has helped liberate you so that you can fully assimilate just how much people loved your work– no matter what your last name happens to be! (For the record, I couldn’t make it to a convention, but I got my own copy of Piggy and Pug online, and I’m so glad I did!)

  8. As a writer and author, I know how hard it is to write something and make it alive that others get. Some people say they will write a book and never do. Other will write but be too afraid to publish. I follow you on twitter, 1st because you were Wil’s wife. But now I realize the person you are and I’m proud of all you do. You brighten my day,though we have never met and now I am a fan of your book because you wrote it, promoted it ( which is hard) , and sold it. I’m glad you let that petty woman go and not steal the highlights of that weekend.

  9. To be honest, I only started following you online because you are married to Wil. I got to meet you once and tell you how much your relationship with Wil gave me hope when my ex-husband left me and our newborn son, that I too can find someone to love me despite that. You were warm and nice to me that night. Your online personality kept me following you. I bought your book to support you. My daughter, however, does not know who you are, she just knows she loves your book. So in a way, you got a sale because you’re Wil’s wife, but YOU are the reason so many people love your book.

    1. This is almost identical to what I was going to write! Wil may have gotten me in the door but Anne keeps me coming back and I would keep following her long after I stop following him.

  10. I may have first heard of you because I saw your posts in reply to Wil’s, but I follow you because of YOUR posts and what you say. I bought your book because I trusted YOU. Ignore the jealous and celebrate with those of us that appreciate you!

  11. Maybe she should have followed your famous husband’s motto: Don’t be a dick.

    You are awesome, and I love that you’re mature enough to rise above, even though it’s so hard sometimes. I haven’t gotten a copy yet, but I really want one, because I trust that *you* can craft a story and write it well (and the art is adorable!). It can go in pride of place next to Seamus’ book 😀

  12. I know it’s cliche, but her comment sounds full of jealousy. She probably also worked hard and happened to see your table being more popular than hers so she had to come up with a reason that wasn’t “people here happen to be more interested in that book than mine,” which doesn’t justify her comments by any means.
    I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re amazing. On your own.

  13. Hi Anne,

    After creating new things, there always seems to be someone like this to rain on your parade. Sometimes they’re the friends you thought would be supportive who end up saying something crushing. It’s hard to reconcile but all I can figure is that in those moments they are so consumed by their emotions that they don’t pause to question whether they should say what they end up saying. I can only take it as insecurity on their part. Doesn’t make it less upsetting, unfortunately. And in my case, it makes me less likely to share with them.

  14. It sounds like she had to justify in her head why someone she’d never heard of was so busy when she wasn’t. And she wasn’t right, but she wasn’t entirely wrong; you weren’t busy because of Wil, but you were probably busier.

    Wil’s a bit of a gateway drug. Through him, Meredith Yayanos and laughterkey add joy and art to my Tumblr feed. I get to enjoy Paul and Storm now because of him. I can strut around in Groverfield and Grammar Dalek t-shirts from Joel Watson. And I can laugh at Vandaleyes and my sons get to read a great book about a pig and a pug because I got to know you.

    So please don’t worry. We all may have learned about you through the Wil Wheaton Advertising Agency, but he’s just PR. We stayed because of you.

  15. Ms. Wheaton, classy way to hold your act together. I always seem to gravitate to the snarky, like I would have suggested that Donald Trump Jr. was recently put in play and that could offer her some name recognition. At least to the Trump tribe, if they even read books.

  16. I’m also going to go with jealously. She probably spent the whole convention being more or less ignored while she watched tons of people go over to your table, and she felt hurt and unwanted and neglected and she needed a way to deal with that.
    I imagine it got under your skin so much because you spend so much time being Mrs. Wil Wheaton that when you put in the time and effort to do a thing that’s just yours, it really, really sucks to have someone come along and say “nope, that’s Wil’s too. You don’t count. ” But, you know that expression “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink?” Well maybe your husband’s name recognition helped lead over the first few horses, but so what? It was your work that got them to drink.
    And what were you supposed to do, divorce him first? Not work? Pretend to be someone else? Not market your book? Maybe you just shouldn’t have written it at all to be more fair to random convention lady. Or maybe the hell with her. (hint: it’s that last one).
    Next time you run into someone like her, just remember that people like your work. I know that because they told you and you told me. Because you’re good at social media and you put a lot of effort into your accounts and you’ve been doing that for years . You’ve been MARKETING yourself for years and this is the payoff, regardless of Wil Wheaton. So you can give a big bright smile like the one in that gorgeous picture of you you’re using, and tell them exactly that.
    Anyway, that lady sucked and she doesn’t deserve to make you feel bad about yourself. Screw her.

  17. Wil may be the way I got to know about you, but you as a person are someone I admire. You two as partners and as creative adults are shining examples of how to be decent people in the world. I’m a fan of your work on behalf of animals. I’m a fan of your thoughts about health and self care and kindness. I’m a fan of you in the world. If people have to be small and jealous, that’s on them. Keep being your lovely, funny, creative self.

  18. Anne,

    I am sorry this happened to you. Your reaction and the lingering raw feelings about this transaction tell me that this still has you shaken. I’m hopeful that writing about it was the steam valve exercise you needed to be rid of it; but if not, please be reassured in knowing that her problem had nothing, at all, to do with you.

    She will no doubt read your post. She may even read the replies. She may obsess and bend and create her own version of events, much as you have presented yours, in a further effort to make herself feel better. I do hope, though, that you will no longer feel the need to do either.

    It is no easy thing to learn, or to teach, emotional hygiene. Be well, Anne.

  19. I was at ECCC and managed to get into your Friday panel on storytelling – and it was great. You were great. I’m sorry the experience was shadowed by this nasty moment, but your work is going to speak for itself, and for you, far longer than that woman’s words will echo.

  20. How incredibly rude of that author. That’s the sort of ungracious remark that, if it occurs to you, you firmly shut your mouth or take a drink of water and do NOT say out loud.

    I did find you because of Wil but I started reading your words on Twitter and here because you are amazing and funny and warm and caring in your own right. Your partnership only enhances the good that is you, it doesn’t define you or the lovely things that you do.

    1. Btw. I bought 2 copies of Pig and Pug. One for me and one for a family of 5 kids. I bought mine because it looks cute and I support you doing something of your own.
      Today I asked the mom of the 5 kids, “So like, did your kids like the Wheaten book?” She replied “The what?” I said “The pig & pug book?” ” oh that!! They LOVE it, they read it 3-4 times a week right now. They draw their own pig and pug adventures, it’s their favorite book and we read a lot!! Who’s Wheaten?”
      “The author, Anne Wheaten, you know she’s the wife of Wil Wheaten…….he was on Star Trek…?” “Oh, I don’t watch Star Trek…”

      Lol. Suffice it to say the book more than stands alone.

  21. she’s right, though, regardless of what your book is like … sorry. :/ maybe get used to comments like those and don’t let them ruin what was probably an amazing experience. it’s unfair.

    1. “We’re all just doing the best we can in this world. I know we can all have good days and bad but please, for the sake of humanity, try a little kindness when you’re interacting with others. You’ll be glad you did.”

  22. It was a mean, terrible thing to say. I am so sorry you had to deal with that.

    And no, you shouldn’t have to get used to comments like that. They are rude and hurtful, designed to steal your joy. I’m sorry that people are saying this sort of behavior is ok. It’s not.

    Again, I’m sorry that you had to deal with this.

  23. Sure, I followed Wil first and then followed you, but you each have a distinct social media presence and I’ve stayed with you because of *you.* But, apparently neither the book nor your sign said “Anne Wil’s Wife Wheaton,” since SHE had to ask if you were related. I suspect that in the realm of children’s fiction, he’s Anne Wheaton’s husband at times.

    I am also sorry you had to deal with that. I hope these comments lift your spirits!

  24. Wow what an awful woman…..your awesome for who you are not who your married to and for her to suggest otherwise just proves what a jealous person she is….dont give her a second thought…..
    So from this little household in Sydney to you….YOU ROCK !!!!

  25. Anne, there is nothing I can say to take away the sting of what she said to you. All I can say is that while I may have originally found you because of Wil, over the years I’ve found myself unfollowing him while still following you. Maybe it’s because you and I bonded over our look alike dogs, or maybe it’s just because you’re the kind of truly awesome person I could see being friends with if you just weren’t on the other side of the country. Just don’t let the douchebags get you down.

  26. Oh Anne, so many people are passing opinion for fact. I think it was very insincere what the other person said to you but please realise that that happens to be her opinion. Everybody is entitled to their opinion even if it is formed by jealousy. Does she have a point? If so you must act on it. If not – and I think that is the case even if I did not read your book – then let it go. In that case it has no value for you.

    Hugs. Now just go and piss her off a bit more by making an even better book. You can do it. And that is what counts.

  27. You have so much to be proud of, Anne! Do keep up your amazing work, and savor all of those positive experiences you’ve had thus far! There will be more to come, I know it!

  28. People are careless and/or unkind far too often. All we can do is try to help people be more empathic, caring and considerate – qualities that your beautiful children’s book highlights. Though your children’s book speaks directly about the need for these qualities when we think about animals, they are just as relevant when dealing with people.

    As for your book itself, it is well worth being proud of. Every single night my daughter asks us to read it… it is currently her favourite book… I am so happy to have such a wonderful book in our library for her to read for many years to come.

  29. I read something years ago about one of the Zen masters responding to an insult with “Thank you. I do not accept your gift.” Seems to apply here.

  30. It’s hard to remember this when someone is crappy to you, but it all boils down to eight words.

    You made a thing. They made a comment.

  31. I’m coming to your book signing today at Vroman’s! I can’t wait to tell you to your beautiful face that that envious bitch is wrong; that *almost* everyone here is right; that, like most of the commenters here, I “came for the Wil but stayed for the Anne”.

    Will you also be selling any of your paintings today? I have a perfect space on my living room wall…

  32. I’m not sure how I got to this post, but as an independent author, I am sorry you had to deal with that. While I love the work your husband has done, I do not equate your success to his. I actually read your book and it struck a chord with me. I am married to a veterinarian and we have too many pets. I have always had pets and I think this should be required reading for all potential pet owners. You should make a connection with the ASPCA. Anyway, good luck in your future work and remember that there will always be negative people but their negativity rarely has anything to do with you.

  33. Anne, please don’t let this woman’s stupid remarks get you down. Your work stands on it’s own. I’m a Landscape Photographer and work many art shows during the course of a year and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to remarks about my work that are equally ridiculous. Continue to believe in what you do. There are small people in the world who have no filters and just don’t understand the meaning of being nice.

    You are correct, try a little kindness and you’ll get it back ten fold, I guarantee it! Congrats on your book!

  34. Hi Anne,
    I came here to find out if you were single after buying your book at the Calgary show, in the hopes of taking you out for dinner. So being married to Wil isn’t doing you any favor (I know some good restaraunts in this city!). Thank-you for the book, my kids and I will love it, and don’t let the bastards get you down!

  35. I am an author and I am pretty well known in my field, have a large fan base, etc… I remember a peer making fun of me because of my “little” book, then asking if I was “self” published as a put down. I wasn’t and my sales were good, but even if I was self published it seemed like a dig just to hurt, but to boost themselves.
    You keep being you and they say you haven’t made it until you have your first “hater” so you’ve got this!

  36. To be honest, I wanted to see who Wil Wheaton was married to (cant explain why I do this, it is not the first nor the last time I do this with a celebrity) And, furthermore, I havent read (or even known) the books. Checking them out on amazon I would’ve liked them at a young age ( (I learned to read at 3 from cookbooks and the bible ) so probably earlier than 5. What I want to say to you is: Don’t give an aviating copulation about her. It is so horrible to sit for hours thinking about why without learning anything about the actual book. She must’ve had a lousy self confidence . If I happen to stumble upon your book/s Iwill check it out thoroughly.

  37. For a moment, I panicked because I thought this post was about me and I’d done something thoughtless without realizing it, because I…am an author-lady who had a table across the way, and I introduced myself to you. But even though I sometimes say things that sound good in my head but stupid out loud, I know nothing like that came out of my mouth because I recognized you and your name instantly and would never have asked who you are. Also, I know how damned hard it is to write children’s books that connect with kids!

    Thank you once again for the googly-eyes. I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I remember how friendly and kind you were, and it put a bounce in my step.

  38. Yup, that sucks, and it’s been going on for decades if not centuries. If it’s of any help, think of it as making your bones as a writer. *smears paint across your forehead, Lion King-style* Ignore the haters and keep on writing — it pisses them off beyond belief.

  39. Anne, if you’d written a turkey of a book, you’d be truly famous as Wil Wheaton’s wife who wrote that awful book. Since you didn’t, you aren’t. Your critic might have been angry because she doesn’t have a famous husband, but that’s not your fault. (Feel sorry for him. I bet he heard a lot about you that weekend.)

  40. I’d hazard a guess she already knew who you were. I mean … there’s more than a couple people in the world named Wheaton.


  41. I’m sorry you had this experience after all your hard work. There’s so many haters in the world, especially right now, that it’s hard to avoid them. All we can do is try.

    Best of luck to you!

  42. I’ve never heard of your husband or you for that matter before seeing this. It was shared on a Facebook page I follow–Writing about writing to show some of the darker side in this industry. I know what it’s like to excel in male dominated fields. I know what it’s like to fail. I know what it’s like to put my heart and soul in to something just to have people looking above my head for “the man” behind it all. The man to answer the hard questions because I’m just some silly girl. Lol. Having my looks held against me(whether I’m fit or fat. Doesn’t matter, if you’re a woman it’s all held against you) What you’ve experienced is shitty. But by sharing this with everyone, you’ve gained at least one more fan, and I still don’t know anything about you or your husband. I just know I want to know more about you.

  43. You could always use a pen name. But this industry is so difficult, I say GOOD FOR YOU!! If someone is throwing shade your way because your name is recognizable, I bet they’d give anything to have that same problem. No matter how lovely a book, it’s harder than hell to get anyone to read it in the first place. Use whatever ammo you have. In the end, all that really matters is the readers you touch. Most of us don’t have the name or the resources…just the love of writing.

    It’s never going to be a smooth journey. Just don’t give up. Ever.

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