Holding pattern…

Nov 20, 2010 by

Well, still waiting for feedback on Kindred Hearts, and my own heart is sinking rapidly.  Are the beta readers just not engaged enough to finished?  Does it suck so badly they’re afraid to tell me the bad news?  The longer this goes on the less confident in the story I am.  Lynda described it as “ambitious,” and I guess it is, far more so than “Zach.”  Which was, essentially, just a romance.   But then, Kindred Hearts is also just a romance–albeit one set in an historical period with characters like Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington.  I dunno.  I never thought “Zach” would receive the kind of reception it has–the original intent was just to see if I could A, finish a book and B, get it published.  The fact that it’s still getting good reviews after six months seems to me to indicate that it has legs, which is good.  God only knows what Kindred Hearts will have.  Hooves?  Tentacles?

I’m not sure where I’m going with Miles and Adam’s story–it started out as sort of an in-joke between me and my friends Adam and Philip.  Or David and Craig, if you’re speaking mundanely.  Adam is the SCA name of David, and Philip is the SCA name of Craig.  And David Philip Evans is in Finding Zach, so I had to write a story with Adam Craig, of course. The name sounds like a rock star, so he is.  And Miles Caldwell is a hermit calligrapher who lives by a lake and never goes anywhere and doesn’t have a clue who Adam is.  Which Adam kind of likes.  And he likes Miles, and vice versa, but what’s going to happen when Adam goes back to LA and takes up his life as a rock star again?  Miles has a very negative opinion of their future, but Adam is optimistic…

Question, totally off-topic:  What do you do when someone asks your opinion of their own book, and you think it sucks?  I mean–really, really bad.  Flat writing, bad characters, uninteresting story…  The problem is that the person is someone you either work with or have to meet regularly in a social situation or is another author with your publisher, and they’ve published before and you couldn’t read their other books either?  So far I’ve been able to avoid the subject when we’ve met, but I’m scared to death that I’ll be asked for input–and I just can’t give it.  Because it’s really that bad.  And I don’t want them mad at me or insulted, because they are a nice person.

I’ve read bad books before and it amazes the hell out of me that they got published.  I do galley proofreading for my own publisher, and one of the books I had to proof was absolutely terrible.  I was so relieved when I was done!  And then a few weeks later, the editor asked me to proof the sequel.  Fortunately I was absolutely slammed with other work and couldn’t do it anyway, so that saved me coming up with an excuse not to read it.  I’m not being picky or snobby–it was just that bad.  I’m curious to hear what the reviewers have to say about it.

My ambition is to have Sarah Frantz from Dear Author review Kindred Hearts and give it a good review.  She’s tough, but I respect her opinion.  Her reviews were in the back of my mind the whole time I was writing KH, and I kept editing it by her voice in my head.  But first I have to get feedback from my betas…


  1. What do you do when someone asks your opinion of their own book, and you think it sucks?

    Depends. If it’s someone who honestly wants feedback, I’ll find what to me is the core of the problem and give them my analysis, though only about three main points and no more. Anything more will overwhelm and possibly discourage even the strongest writer. But I’d give positive things too, and I’d open and end with them. (I used to teach writing to twelve-year-olds. I learned at heart, all writers are twelve.)

    If it’s a stranger or someone who doesn’t really want honest feedback, I give a pat, blase answer. If it’s somewhere in-between, someone who wants the truth but will be hurt by too much truth, I softball. I don’t lie, but I put up the bumpers on the bowling lanes and roll the ball very, very gently. In those instances bald truth serves nothing. What the person is really asking is, “Am I okay?” And the answer to a friend or loved one in those instances is always, always “yes” before anything else.

    It really is psychology. And everyone really is twelve. That pretty much is the frame that will answer all feedback quandaries.

    • “…everyone really is twelve.”
      Oh, that is SO true. Thanks for the advice! I guess it’s all a matter of treading softly and remembering that none of us ever really grow up. We are all of us just hoping for a little affirmation. I know I am!

      (can I do a little fangirl squeeing here? I always think I’m just talking to myself on this blog and it delights the hell out of me when someone actually comments, but when it’s someone whose books I love, I’m just tickled pink!! Thanks!)

      • Well, you can thank Google Alerts for the ping (on another post), but I poked around on my own. Yes, and do send Sarah FZ. I should really read it someday here too.

        I know what you mean about the talking to yourself. I did so for years, and it kind of wigs me out sometimes now that people talk back.

  2. Sarah Frantz says:

    Wow. I never knew I’d have such an effect on people. I’m very flattered and feel completely undeserving of such attention.

    And…send me Kindred Hearts when it’s released? And/or send me Finding Zach? Or not! Either way, I’ll keep an eye out for it. :)

    • “Dear Author” is one of my daily blogs and I love reading your reviews, particularly on historicals. I find it really hard to read most of them, probably because I have a degree in history and so many of them either ignore or play ducks-and-drakes with the facts. The fact that you not only can get through some of them but can present a cogent review at the end of it all is impressive! (I’d never make a reviewer – I only want to read books I know I’ll like. Not very adventurous!) So it’s not flattery, it’s just the facts, ma’am.

      I will be happy to send you a copy of Zach; Kindred Hearts hasn’t even been submitted yet (though I did get some excellent feedback from one of my beta readers) though I hope to send it out by Christmas. Thank you so much for commenting, and I really hope you don’t hate my stuff. (Do I sound like a twelve-year-old? Cuz I really am. :D Heidi is right.)

  3. [...] and decided it was just a bit too much, too over the top, so didn’t request it. But, well, flattery will get you at least a reading. Thankfully, what I read, I loved, even if I still think it’s [...]

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