Reviews – Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

When a book releases, reviews usually follow. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quick. I found a lovely review for In the Devil’s Arms a good year after it was released. So these things do take time.
I’ve had a couple of recent releases in the last few months, and I’ve sent them off with a fingers-crossed silent prayer that whoever reads them loves them. I’ve been lucky for the most part – most of my reviews that came from review sites and blogs have, overall, been very good.  I know not everyone will love my books, and I usually have a pretty thick skin. I love the feedback, even it it’s not as good as I’d hoped.
Prince of the Universe was my first stab at sci-fi. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the genre, a few movies here and there, and an occasional book by a favorite author are about it. But the idea came to me, and I ran with it. I had a blast writing the story. It was a lot of fun, although I did have to do a bit of double-checking on certain things that had to be accurate. The rest, I kind of went with what I envisioned in my head when the first pieces of the story came together. I loved Merry, and wanted to give her the happy ending she deserved after what she’d endured. Same for Vega, even though he was a pompous, arrogant fool at times, he genuinely cared for Merry.  He needed her as much as she needed him.
Apparently, though, I bored the reviewer. Ugh! Bored? Gah, that’s like the kiss of death for a book. I’ve had people trash my characters, my plotlines, even my writing talent. But no one ever said they were bored before. This was new. I sulked for a bit, and lost all desire to continue working on the outline for PotU’s sequel. Logically, I know the book just wasn’t for that reader. It happens, and everyone’s opinion is important. And the review was not done in a mean-spirited way. It was honest. I appreciate that. It’s been some time now, the sting has softened a bit, but the worry remains that people will read that review and steer clear. It happens, and I can’t dwell on it. I have decided I will go ahead and write the sequel. This book will take place entirely on the planet Aldarra, and I’m liking how the plot and conflict are coming together.
My other recent release, Warrior’s Vengeance, was a title I had lots of worries for. I’ve mentioned before the reactions to this book have been extreme, no middle ground. My hero, Ian, can be cruel, and doesn’t always treat the heroine, Marissa, very well. But I wrote this book knowing I was keeping it in sync with events and the people of the times. Of course, I’ve had a few things brought to my attention that I never thought of as I was writing the book, but that’s okay. I kind of expected to be beaten down by readers and reviewers for some of the content, anyway, so those complaints were almost minor. They also spurred a couple of “D’oh!” moments. Haven’t heard the term “bodice-ripper” in a while, but I’ll admit, I liked hearing it. 🙂 

I have a plan for a sequel to this book too, and there are ideas for more books set in 12th/13th century England and Scotland, bringing in some of the paranormal elements I like so much to play with. I truly enjoy that time period, the location, so I want to explore more of the people. I will definitely be producing some more “bodice-rippers” in a similar vein and can only hope they do as well.
Anyway, it seems I needn’t have worried too much about this book – this story resonated with the reviewer. It touched others as well – one reader admitted she had a hard time with the story. I get that – it’s not a light, fluffy story by any stretch of the imagination. But she was honest, and straightforward in her review, and rated the book very highly. I got her point, and it was a pleasure to discuss that with her a little. You can’t ask for more. 
Now, the general rule is, don’t respond to reviews. But I always think it’s nice, when a reader says my story touched her deeply in some way, that I should at least thank her. And it often leads to new experiences I might not otherwise have had. I like to think my instincts are good, and while I don’t often respond to a review, there are those that warrant it, and I’m always glad I did afterward.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a few places I avoid getting in too deep reading reviews. When a reviewer reports my work is poorly written and needs editing, then lists Fifty Shades as one of her Top 10 All Time Favorites, well, I can’t take that reviewer too seriously. Sorry for anyone who’s a fan of those books – I am not. I tried, I really tried, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

In any case, seeing the reactions to Warrior’s Vengeance was a huge bright spot in a gloomy last couple of weeks, which sadly, look to be getting gloomier. I have some thoughts on that, but I don’t know if I’m inclined to share them here yet. I’ve been holding off and taking a wait-and-see approach, but I think that time has come to an end. In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep up with getting two books done – one revised, and one new. And trying not to think too far ahead.