At first I had a sinking feeling and not a little despair. But on reflection, my writer’s integrity asserted itself and I issued a very polite (I hope) thanks and apologetic, also available at the above link as a comment on the comment.
Two things I take away from this. One is Kay’s (the reviewer’s) take on the language. I can’t apologize for my grammar. It is what it is. And I took severe pains to actually talk down the characters’ dialogue as I wrote (and rewrote) the text. I wanted characters’ spoken words to reflect accurately the speech I knew from my years in the 70s and 80s in Iowa, swearing included. Perhaps I had grown up in a privileged (linguistically) environ? Yet everyone I knew was middle class, strictly. We were well-educated readers in those days. All my friends read, and avidly. And we fished, played board games, card games, camped, and swatted softballs around. That was we. And my characters reflect that.
Two is her lack of commentary of anything substantial to the driving plot. I worried about this as I wrote it, yet it was based on real events. A youthful girl was raped who lived in my neighborhood while walking home from a school function at night. She did try to kill herself when her parents didn’t believe her after enduring months of her growing volatility and instability. This neighborhood shock was what inspired me to put pen to paper. Further, the subjects of unplanned teen pregnancies were beginning to become rife in the 80s, as well as the prevalence of digital and video material’s easy access to society.
It is as it was, and I stand by it. I see my book as more of a record of what started to happen to a recently staid society that found itself suddenly open to new avenues of media and rapidly changing cultural norms. We’re still reaping those changes.
I almost wrote “let-me-down freeloaders.”
Is it too much to ask or nudge people I’ve known to have downloaded my e-book “Ready or Not” to at least rate it?
I am new at this, obviously, so perhaps I ask a naive question. I am fairly certain that most haven’t even gotten around to reading it yet, let alone finishing it. (And how can that be urged? I think it is impossible without loss of tact.) We writers wish anyone with our work is breaking his or her neck to read and savor our material–hardly a truth.
Here and there at work I’ve mentioned this to those who acknowledged taking advantage of the free download (lightly but sincerely). Yet naught happens.
Do I post to my Facebook page and reiterate what must be obvious? Perhaps I am too polite.
Or perhaps a more ominous question needs to be addressed: is the book actually not very good?
On the e-publishing of Ready or Not.
Sales: The illustration summarizes them. Downloads: 9 sales, 105 downloads (free promotion).
Reviews: Three wonderful ones here.
Lesson: Don’t depend on give-aways promoted to relatives, friends, and co-workers to garner much in the way of on-line interest. For that matter, don’t expect the same to be in any hurry to actually read the book! I have confirmation of only three people who have done so. (Thanks, reviewers!)
Action: Begin to market the book to agents who accept digital portions. Thanks to leads provided by author Wendy L. Callahan, I have a plentiful list of above-board agents available at AAR, or The Association of Authors’ Representatives. The process is begun.
I wrote to Dusty Crabtree, this author, that in some ways I attacked her same themes in “Ready or Not,” albeit for adults. My point is to “look-back-and-wince” at the changing morality already beginning in 1985 Iowa; worse, since all this occurs in the “Heartland” of decades now past, how much worse must our youth be facing today?
I added that “I sometimes wonder if I didn’t make a colossal mistake in structuring my piece as I did, for YA books are at such a rage.”
Time to come clean. (Or shouldn’t it be “come cleanly”?) Time for me to allow anyone to read chapter one of the book I have worked so hard on for so long–for a majority of my life, in fact. And so the addition of another page to this blog giving Chapter 1 of “Ready or Not” in its entirety.
True, a peek to this link will give anyone access to the first chapter and a portion of the second. But this forum is interactive in its nature, unlike the static Amazon Kindle page. So have a look at what I have cared about for so long. It stands before you naked and unadorned; it is what it is. Has it wrinkles? Has it age? Does it possess my vitality from my 20’s when I so hopefully journeyed forth on my project?
You judge. And if you like what you read, you know what you must do to complete your investigation of my disemrobement.
Titled: “Not everything is as it appears…”
Poor editing* tends to be a big complaint when it comes to self-published or “indie” books, so I am pleased to say first and foremost that is not a huge problem here. There are a few issues and some redundant sentences, but the story mostly flows along without too many errors. The formatting is also well done – no problems with strange characters or fancy text.
As for the story itself, it starts off with a terrible incident that draws you right in. It makes you wonder why this happened and how the main character, Ann, will deal with it. She is obviously an immature pre-teen who has just experienced the most traumatic event of her young life. It is the kind of thing you don’t expect to happen in small town America, yet it has happened to her.
From Chapter 1, an intriguing tone is set for the story – one of private misery and small-town secrets. You can tell Ann wishes desperately for a very different life. Her mother, Tam, is preoccupied with her own local self-importance and rising “above” the townsfolk, who she looks down on as nobodies. The welfare of her children is the least of her self-centered concerns.I was really engrossed by Ann’s story. From the start, I hated her family, and that feeling of angry futility only got worse as I read.
However, Ann is only one of many characters in this book. There is also Allen May who I wanted to like… and who disappointed me even more than Ann’s family. But Ann’s own personal tragedy is the common thread that ties the other characters’ tales together.
“Ready or Not” is almost like a collection of inter-related vignettes that painfully collide. There is no idyllic family life or childhood here; just desperation that ultimately leads the two main characters to spectacularly self-destruct.
If this is an accurate portrayal of middle America small-town life (I grew up in a large university town myself), all I can think of is a line from Dar Williams’ song, “Iowa”, where she sings, “And we walk in the world of safe people, and at night we walk into our houses and burn.”
All in all, this is a heart-wrenching read and a reminder that not everything is as it appears on the outside.
*She went on to explain to me in a separate post more about editing.
Self-editing is hard and it’s always great to have a critical beta-reader to go through and point out any problems with grammar, sentence structure, continuity, etc. I rely on at least 3 beta-readers, and I have 2 writers who use me to beta.
But your editing is really good! So many indie books out there are very, very sloppy these days. Your book makes me wonder why you didn’t seek out an agent or publisher, because it’s obviously that good.
When I was writing (and rewriting) my book, I often found myself at Holy Mass receiving inspiration about how to handle a particular plot issue. This happened so often, in fact, that I felt that the project was sanctioned somehow. Further, single lines–or touches upon existing lines–would occur to me. Do other writers feel this? I am certain Christian-based writers would attest to a similar experience. How about others? When inspiration comes, it is endemic to creativity, and the creative potential comes from our maker.
Far too many times this occurred for me to count; I can only recollect one particular for certain, though, worthy of recounting that won’t also be a spoiler.
A loss of virginity occurs during “Ready or Not.” Yet this was not my original intent. I had every hope I could get a protagonist through the experience having withheld his integrity. But it wasn’t to be. It wouldn’t have been the Truth as a youth would have weighed it, both given his character and the themes of the novel. Considering the location I was in (the Church), I took this realization as inspired.
So I plotted it out as I had received it. I took care not to be titillating, for erotica is not what I sought. Realism almost precludes that genre.
Have I wrought a kind of Christian Realism? Christian Determinism? One day I will explore that possibility further. The concepts seem to clash, and yet I feel that such is the case.
Having birthed a book, I love it so. It rests on Amazon’s e-shelves, fully formed, as prenatally prepared as I could muster as a man. I assume it is healthy, but I worry. And shall I always?
Already consigned to public review, my babe has been pulled from me–for my rest–to be viewed in the maternity ward. I want passers-by to notice my child, my child, and not any other. But the baby’s a baby to anyone else. Do they know its potential, its heroic destiny knit from my womb?
Consign it to eternity and let man and God be its judge. Yet I will always love it for being with me for so long, swimming, enlarging, kicking, and birthing.
Were you worth the pain, sweet book? Yes; I love you no matter what this fallen world may do with you.
(Look at the little darling: isn't it cute?)