Bad Review

Mystery on a BudgetI got a bad review on my book Ready or Not available at Kindle. It isn’t long, but out of respect for the writer, I link it here rather than quote it in its entirety.

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.

New Page: Chapter 1 in its entirety

Chapter 1 of “Ready or Not” may be read on its own page.

Click to the right of “Home,” this blog.

Ready or Not” is copyright 2012 by Todd L. Ehlers. The novel’s cover illustration is copyright 2011 by Liza E. Paizis.


ImageReady or Not: cover detail by Liza Paizis

In 1981 I visited home having recently moved out for the first (and final) time. Two siblings remained, one my youngest sister. I was 20, and she 15.

My sister was upset about something that had happened to a grade school girl in the neighborhood. As I recall, she indirectly knew this girl from having known older siblings in the family closer to her own age.

Her eyes were angry and upset at the same time. She said the girl in question, no older than 13, had tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed, but what horrified my sister most was why she had attempted her life. The girl had been raped some weeks or months earlier (I think the latter) but, out of shame and some guilt, had sequestered the fact. Her mood had become severely altered in the meantime, however; her parents and siblings knew something was wrong. The girl had changed. Family tensions had reached some sort of crescendo, so one or both of the parents demanded answers.

She told the truth. The girl had been walking home from the grade school following some after school function, that time past, and had been raped by someone lurking in bushes, shrubbery, or a copse of trees–I forget the details. I know the route well, having walked it myself for over 8 years, and I know the many shadier expanses a predator could have lurked inside. When she had dumped out her awful secret, the parents did not believe her. They sought some other explanation and wouldn’t hear any more of the story–the truth. This girl had then tried to kill herself. How I know not.

I had been as furious and sick-hearted as my sister was. Pity for this girl and fury at this wicked world welled up in my heart and has always remained for any such victims, especially the young. I told myself on that spot (I remember where I sat in my parents’ living room and the angle I viewed my sister’s face as she related this tragedy) that this will be fixed in a story. Or, at the least, addressed.

I wasn’t as upset by any lurid specifics of how the assault happened, for this scourge has been with us as long as we’ve been fallen; I wanted to fathom how a home life and a pair of parents couldn’t believe their daughter’s awful trauma: her secret, oozing sore of memories.