Once again it’s time for the weekly Sunday Brunch with ZA Maxfield! This week, we have one awesome friend joining us! Please welcome P.D. Singer!
This week’s question is: “Describe how you felt when you got your first bad review.“
***BIG NEWS*** From now on, instead of offering a weekly prize, ZAM will be giving out a $20.00 Amazon gift card so readers can use it for the ebook (or other Amazon purchase) of their choice once a month to anyone who has commented on her blog that month. All you have to do is comment below for your chance to win!
Last week’s winner is Tom Canaday! Congrats! You should be receiving an email from me shortly.
Without further ado, let’s hear from P.D.!
I’ve been spoiled by mostly positive responses since fandom days. There, of course, the sense of community cushioned the swats, if any, and there weren’t a lot, though I might have deserved more. The reception was a little different once I got out into the land of original work.
I didn’t understand that I was supposed to keep my joy to myself. I was the uncouth newbie who thanked reviewers, sometimes with squeeing. After all, one responded in fandom. And it seemed polite. I didn’t have the sense G-d gave a goose, did I? I did have a pretty good sense of “Never let them see you sweat,” though, and that probably kept me from responding to my first less than stellar reception.
When my first novel, Fire on the Mountain came out, it got generally favorable attention. In its original form, was an Honorable Mention, Jury’s Choice, for the Rainbow Awards. So I was a little nonplussed when I ran into someone Who Was Not Impressed.
This particular reviewer, who was then associated with various review sites and still drops an opinion in now and again, often attached tag lines to her reviews. In Fire’s case, the tag line was:
Too much masturbation causes forest fires.
Well. I read that about a dozen times before I could move on to the rest of the review, which was neither wholly positive nor negative, but was definitely of the opinion that Jake whipped his dick out alone entirely too often.
Okay, valid opinion. One I didn’t share, having written all those encounters with his right hand, but it was hers and she’d discussed it with this pithy summation. The summation stuck. Boy did it.
I wisely said nothing about it on my blog, or Facebook or anything public, because really, that one line said it all. And time does what time does; it passes. I won’t say it healed wounds, because this was a sting on my pride. Time also brings perspective.
By the time I got to New Orleans for the first Gay Rom Lit convention, time had gone by. And I find myself sitting at a poolside table with a drink in hand, chatting with people whose names I knew from blogs, Goodreads, and review sites. I’m having a conversation with Chris and Kris and Leontine and Kassa! Whoowhee! There are names attaching to faces that I know by pink wigs on cats and by giveaways and pithy opinions.
And Kassa mentions that she read one or two of my books. “Yes, you did,” I reply. “I remember it well. It had a tag line.”
Possibly this isn’t the most welcome comment a reviewer ever hears from an author sitting within arm’s reach. She’s glancing right and left for possible escape routes.
I try to quote it for her, but what started as a recollection turns into giggles, and the giggles to some undignified guffaws. “Too much—” I try, and have to start over. “Too much mast—” It takes me six attempts to get the entire sentence out. She’s trying to help me say it and not doing a great deal better. By the time I reach “fires,” at least one of us is wearing part of a drink. People are looking at us funny. We’re both roaring and wiping our eyes.
This one review taught me a great deal about not taking myself so seriously. It wasn’t funny at the time, but with a little more distance, even I can see that this is spit-take territory. Not everyone is going to love my every word, and they don’t have to.
This is timely for me to remember, because my upcoming Dreamspinner release, A New Man (due in February, exact date TBA), has a character who becomes distinctly unlovable. It doesn’t last, though I do hope readers will stick with Chad and with me while we herd him through his awful stage. Getting from “asexual nice guy” to “normal nice guy” for him is going to take some work, and love interest Warren will want to throw rocks at him a time or two.
Some readers may want to throw rocks at me for suggesting that “asexual” isn’t a valid status. It is, and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting otherwise. Here it’s a side effect of a true medical condition that has a lot of other ramifications. A limping libido is the smallest of Chad’s problems, only the most obvious.
If any rocks do get thrown, I’ll weather it. I’ve already been tempered to deal with reviews that don’t match my vision of the book. If I’ve told my story well, there won’t be many, but there will be some. I’ll deal.
Besides, too much masturbation does cause forest fires. Just ask Kurt and Jake. 🙂
Buy Links for A New Man: Dreamspinner Press
And here’s a little blurb/teaser:
Senior year of college is for studying, partying, and having fun before getting serious about life. Instead, Chad’s days are filled with headaches and exhaustion, and his fencing skills are getting worse with practice, not better. Then there’s his nonexistent love life, full of girls he’s shunted to the friend zone. Is he asexual? Gay?
Grad student Warren Douglas could be out clubbing, but his roommate is better company, even without kisses. He’s torn up watching Chad suffer, gobbling ibuprofen and coming home early on Friday nights. If Chad weren’t straight, Warren would keep him up past midnight. They’re great as friends. Benefits might answer Chad’s questions.
A brief encounter with lab rats reveals Chad’s illness—he needs surgery, STAT, and can’t rely on his dysfunctional parents for medical decisions. Warren’s both trustworthy and likely to get overruled—unless they’re married. “You can throw me back later,” Warren says, and he may throw himself back after his husband turns out moody and hard to get along with, no matter how much fun his new sex drive is. Surgery turns Chad into a new man, all right…
…but Warren fell in love with the old one.
~ * ~ * ~
Thank you to P.D. Singer for joining us this week!