Monday, September 22, 2008

The Terror and Joy That Are Reviews

Most of the authors I know love to hear that people appreciate all their hard work and adore their writing. It validates all your time and effort and salves some of your anxiety over whether or not your story is any good.

In all honesty, I write what I want to read. A sudden inspiration will spring up in a dream or a odd moment during the day and I will want to follow that train of thought to the end of the line. Sometimes I find a really cool story I want to share with other people and sometimes I realize that the flash of inspiration was all there was.

The As The World Dies Trilogy was a moment of inspiration based on a dream. It came to me in a flash and I quickly wrote it down. I posted it on a forum on impulse and it was the reviews that inspired me to write out the epic story.

Now, some of the reviews were harsh. I read those along with the positive ones. I wanted to see if there was a kernel of truth in the reviews that were taking aim at the story (and oftentimes, me). If there was something valid in the critique, I learned from it. If not, I dismissed it.
I also learned, in the time span that As The World Dies was online, that sometimes people are hateful just because they want to be. Nothing you write will ever make them happy and they will always pick at you. I still remember this one person saying that Jenni and Katie were so shallow, you could change them into men and no one would know the difference. I read that to my husband and he just shook his head.

The one strength of the story is that the leads are women and view things from a totally different perspective. Jenni, as a mother, has suffered a severe loss of her children and this sends her over the edge in a very strange, yet endearing way. Katie, a bisexual woman, has suffered the loss of her beloved wife and is a nurturer and protector at heart. The need to keep Jenni alive (and later Jason), is what keeps Katie motivated to live. The two of them form a strong bond that they probably would not have made otherwise and become sisters in a new family they create.

Of course, if some of my critics had their choices, Jenni and Katie would have spent most of their time having lesbian sex, had some big strong military type come and take care of them, they never would have found a gun store (c'mon..its freaking Texas!) and the fort would have been overrun immediately by zombies despite the survivors actually having a freaking brain in their head and fighting back.

If I had made all the changes my naysayers had urged, I wouldn't have written my story, but theirs. And that was the biggest lesson I learned during the whole process. Being true to the world, characters, and premise I had created. Happily, other people (the apparent majority) agreed with my view on the story.

Which brings me to my newest reviews...on Amazon! Before, the reviews were a litmus test of how well I was doing with the story, but now I'm trying to build my readership and get the word out about the novel. Every good review is extremely helpful. Of course, at some point, someone is going to hate my book. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for that. But right now, I would like to appeal to those of you who do like the book and feel its a good read you would recommend to other zombie fans, please write an Amazon review. I would love to hear what you liked about the novel, but also, what you say about the story may encourage someone else to visit the world you love and get to know Katie and Jenni.

Reviews have served a definite purpose in my life. They have encouraged me, taught me, vexed me, and helped promote my book.

Meanwhile, the first review of the brand new first chapter of the second book is in. I handed it off to a co-worker who is also a fan. He loved it! So, I definitely feel I am on the right track.
One more thing, check out this awesome new flyer for Bitefest.

I'm totally in love with it!

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