Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Suspending disbelief...

As a writer *ahem*, well, self-published writer, I've gotten my fair share of feedback on my writing. Most of it has been kind, complementary even. Okay and a lot of it has come from my friends. Do I worry about them giving me positive a review simply to maintain our friendship? Well, of course! But at the same time I'm not really losing sleep over it. Though most, if not all, have assured me of their honesty in the reviewing process.

That's not to say I haven't had my fair share of reviews from total strangers. My first book, London Escape, has been out for almost two years and has been downloaded something like 2,000 times. It has a total of twenty-five reviews on Amazon and a few more ratings on Goodreads. Most of them are good, thankfully, a few are not. Finding Sanctuary, book two, has a few less downloads and a fewer reviews as well. I suppose that's to be expected, you lose a few readers after the first one, maybe.

Which brings me to my point: negative reviews aren't the end of the word. Granted, they almost always hurt my feelings. I always want to fire back at the writer and maybe explain myself and my book a little better. A phrase I've heard a few times, more or less, is that they found certain plot points unbelievable. Okay, I'll admit, perhaps that's a failing on my part as a writer not to make you believe this could really happen. But at the same time I have to wonder what this person is doing reading fiction if they can't just let go and imagine for a minute. Just a minute or two.

Obviously, when I look at the events that take place in my books even I can't say, "Oh yes, that would 100% happen. If that was me, I would totally do the same thing!" Aren't fictional characters supposed to be just a little bit braver, a little bit cooler, and better at making the right decision on the the fly than we are? I think so. Otherwise they would be a little boring. I try my best to make my characters relatable, but at the same time, show growth over the situations life has put them through. A lot of my problems in this area probably stem from the fact that my book is set in the real word. If your book is set in a fictional time or place, you've already given up the need for everything to be completely realistic. Just saying...

And finally, let's talk about something a few readers have taken issue with, Kit's "spidey sense." I'll be the first to acknowledge that it's not real! It was never my intention to imply that my character has some sort of hidden superpower. But honestly, is it really the end of the world if she does? Again, I'm not sure when it was that I promised to the readers that my book is totally plausible in every single way. At the end of the day, it is simply a work of fiction, from my own imagination. Is there any book out there, in the fiction genre, that you could say would totally happen exactly like it has in the book? Also, if I'm being totally honest, I don't think the "spidey sense" is way out there. I think we underestimate our own gut feelings and intuition sometimes. I've just amped it up a little for the sake of telling a story.

This post is probably coming off a little defensive, I'm aware. Until now I've always avoided the issue of addressing negativity toward my writing. Aside from complaining to Matthew about it. It really doesn't bother me and the majority of my less-than-favorable reviews still have been relatively complementary. And at the end of the day, if my book wasn't your style, or you weren't blown away by it, it's fine!

I'm in the process of wrapping up the series now. Last night I wrote "the big  finale" chapter. It was exhausting. It was exhilarating. And I hate that because of a few comments from readers I took a step back and felt a little cynical about where the story has taken them. At the end of the day, I'm happy with it. It's an adventure story, and we all know adventure can take you some pretty crazy places and put you in some crazy situations. I'm sure some people will read parts of my third book and roll their eyes a little. They will complain that they can't suspend disbelief enough to get through it. But then again, I'm not entirely sure that's my fault.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Expectations VS Reality...

So, I just finished up a quick photo recap of our Spring break trip down to Panama City Beach on the family blog. We were there from Tuesday to Saturday and it was a really nice, relaxing trip. But I've got a bone to pick with Florida and PCB. Since around March I've been suffering from some pretty bad seasonal allergies. No surprise to me, I've had allergies ever since I was around twelve, so I'm used to it. I don't really remember suffering too much in Connecticut, since I imagine there was so much less green.

Well, there's a lot of green in Georgia. And a lot of pollen. For the past month I've been switching from every single allergy medicine you can think of. Pretty much with no relief. But I've been functioning. I've still been going outside with the kids and running every weekend. So, I'm not sure what I expected going down to Florida, but what I got was not what I expected...or wanted.

See, I had all these lovely thoughts of going running in the mornings on the beach. Sitting out in the back yard in the sunshine reading. Spending my afternoons in a beach chair watching the kids play. Well, that last one I did, sort of.

We arrived in Florida on Tuesday and my allergies were bugging me a little. By the time twenty-four hours had passed I was in full-on allergy attack mode. Matthew even suggested I go to the emergency room (I didn't). Instead I dosed myself up with all kinds of meds (checked with my mom's bff, who is a nurse, first) and basically went into a drug induced coma for a few hours. After that I had to spend a full twenty-fours indoors until the worst of my symptoms passed. No running. No sitting outside. No beach.


We did go to the beach the next day and I was feeling much improved, due mostly to my lovely cocktail of allergy meds, which finally seemed to be working. So all in all the visit was still worth it. Just not what I expected.

Yes, I wore that hat all week to cover up my puffy, blood-shot eyes. I never did get that run in. In fact, I ran for the first time in SIX days yesterday!