Apparently, light switch is two words. I had to google it. ;-)
So, good news can send me into the stratosphere and bad news can put me down in the dumps. I've always been like this. My mood can change instantaneously, and the worst part is usually everyone can tell. My face is a mood ring.
In a perfect world where I'm perfect Finn, I should be happy. As my boyfriend puts it, my debut novel has over 4 stars on both Goodreads and Amazon, I should be happy. I. Should. Be. Happy.
But, gosh darn it. One negative review and I'm like super down for a long time.
Most of the authors I asked on social media said to ignore reviews, but it's so hard. I want to interact with my fans. I want to read the good reviews. It's just when I check, I remember what my rating was the last time - I have a good memory for some things - and then I know if it went down or up. Ahhh.
I wish I could just forget about it, but the positive reviews really, really uplift me.
The frustrating part is that they were honest, which I appreciate - I don't want lies - and I can understand that they didn't like my book. I know not everyone is going to like every book. I do appreciate detailed criticism more than just a 1 star rating with no comment (it happened).
I know I certainly don't like every book - that's literally why I started writing in the first place. I felt what I was reading was not a realistic portrayal of a gay relationship. It was missing something.
But I also didn't leave a negative review.
The more frustrating part is my most recent criticism could be applied to a number of immensely well-reviewed and popular books, but those criticisms aren't written because (I feel) they are establishment authors. Is it easier to pick on the new kid? Is there a mob mentality to MM romance?
I recently felt like a last book in a recent series was the worst of the series, but most of the reviews seemed to say it was the best of the bunch. I didn't understand it at all.
I've read plenty of dual POV where I couldn't tell the two characters apart. I've read plenty of books where the sports is barely mentioned even though the MCs are both athletes. And repetition? Everyone does that. I've read the same phrasing in like three books by the same author. If I read the phrase "so damn big" one more time, I'm going to explode.
At least I don't have a typo in my book (no one's pointed one out yet) - I've totally seen that in seasoned authors' books.
Why am I so salty? I probably shouldn't post this, but I have no filter. Oh well.
Some of the criticism, I totally understand. Could some of the words been cut? Absolutely. I didn't have $1800 to pay to an editor. Do some of the characters sound similar, or is the language repetitive? Yes. Again, I couldn't afford to pay a professional editor, so I relied on beta readers and friends. I changed literally everything that they criticized, so I did my best. That kind of criticism I can stand behind because I agree, my book could've been tighter.
That's the industry though. I can't please everyone and I certainly won't, and if you've read this far, thanks for coming to my TED talk. I am going to take a little bit of every criticism into consideration because I do want to be a better writer.
But honestly, I just like writing, and I'm going to write what I want to write, and not what people will like or what will sell.
I like writing stories that could be real, that feel real, and yes, in romance there is an element of fantasy, but my fantasy is grounded in reality. There are people of color, there are women, there is sex, there is profanity, there is sarcasm. All of this is real to me. If it's not your experience, then you won't think it's real. It's as simple as that.
I certainly wouldn't spend so much time with my characters if I didn't like them. But I do want others to like them too, and I hope you do.
...with book 2.
SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ RINGS OF LUST
More details to come in good time, but I've had a blast writing this one.
There was a rather implosive end to book 1 that quite a few people didn't like, but even more people are excited to see what's in store for Cam and Luke. How will their Happily Ever After happen?
And where is the next book set? Did Luke rejoin Cam back at college in Florida? Or did Luke's parents stay true to their word and transfer him?
I'm excited to share it, but first I must edit, and my faithful few beta readers must give me feedback, and then it will be yours, my lovely readers.
And that will be good for all of us. :)
Well, when I started writing Rings of Lust as it would eventually be called - picking book titles is not my favorite part of this process - I wasn't confident I would actually publish. But as the words became chapters, and the chapters became 31 chapters, I realized I had done it. I had written a book.
I'm proud of myself for following through. I've had strangers and friends read it, found a program that helped me edit it, and then worked through the process with Amazon to get it done. I also hired an amazing cover artist (Story Stylings Cover Design) and promotion team (GRR) that polished the final product and made it more professional. They certainly helped me to cross the finish line, so to speak. Should I have said reach the podium?
One thing I've never been good at is criticism though, and boy, does it take everything in me to not respond to certain comments or questions. There really isn't an avenue for that, unless they reach out to me through here, instagram, or facebook. It also seems passive aggressive to counter every opinion and nobody (including me) likes that. I mean, I should be (and am) flattered they chose to read my book in the first place. I just hope they stick around for the second book, because I think the choices that some readers are having a hard time understanding are going to be explained.
Rings of Lust was born from the idea of giving a past transgression a full book, i.e. an entire novel to lead up to and explain what had happened was. In most of the books that I've read that have had this type of thing in it, it is mentioned as an aside, an afterthought, an MC's memory, or a series of flashbacks.
Something big happens in Rings of Lust, but you get the build-up, you get to know the characters back then. I've probably given too much away about where I am heading in the following books, but oh well.
They will likely be more "familiar" to readers of MM romance because they take place in the "aftermath" of the "event" and involve the will-they-won't-they slow-burn(?) more traditional trope of the couple coming together after the past incident that I think a lot of readers love and enjoy. My book 2 will essentially be like a traditional MM romance. In that way, Rings of Lust was more of a prequel, but one that I wrote before the original (i.e. book 2). Is any of this making sense?
So, I hope for some this clarifies one really big decision in this book. I wanted the impact on the reader to mimic the impact on the character and I decided it was the only way.
Remember when a TV show had a season finale and you had to wait a few months to see what happened?
You should only have to wait a few months. I hope to have book 2 out by the end of 2021.
If you have any other questions about my thought process, I'd love to hear them. I know Luke's parents are an enigma to some readers, the amount of sex has been mentioned, the realness of the sex (as a gay man...well, I shouldn't have to explain that), and here I go starting to get defensive again. See! It's really hard. ;-)
If you enjoyed my book, please leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. I'm sure my constant checking of both pages will end at some point, right?
Well, it's out there, and I feel like Sally Field.
You like me! You really like me! *cries cries cries*
Seriously, the kind words I've received make me feel really good, and more determined to finish book two asap.
If you have a blog or instagram and you'd like to participate in an early reading and the release party, sign up with the link below.
I'm working with Gay Romance Reviews to help promote Rings of Lust. I'd love to have you!
Well, after almost a month and a half of proofreading and editing, and a day of formatting, the pre-order for Rings of Lust is live on amazon.com.
Pre-order with the following link: mybook.to/RingsOfLust
I am hopeful to get the paperback pre-order link up ASAP. I'm just waiting on the final graphic for the paperback cover from the talented and patient Rebecca from Story Styling Cover Designs. She created the Finn Dixon graphic as well as all the cover art and promo materials for the book, and eventual series. I highly recommend their services.
That's all for now. Thanks for visiting.