So here it is my Sunday which is Wednesday for everyone else in America, not sure what day of the week it is for other time zones. But there it is. I got a really cool thing in my email yesterday. I got my very first official book review. The review had been sent, or was attempted in January but it never reached me. Until finally someone who had received the email in error redirected it to me. The review is for Veteran of the Silent War and here it is:
What did you like best about this book?
The story was inspiring. I actually like this cover design. The characters were well-developed and you grew to love them as you read the book. It featured simple reading in a nice, concise arrangement.
How can the author improve the book?
For such an inspiring story, you are left with an unclear ending and no idea what happens to the main character. Therefore, I believe the ending would benefit from a re-write.
This review came from Writer's Digest, a highly respected web page/company that specializes in educating, developing and connecting authors to agents and publishers. Agents looking to gain new authors come to Writer's Digest to make their requests. Hence a review from one of WD is a thing to be taken seriously.
Like any good review there is the good and the (in this case) not quite as good information. While reading this review I had to ask myself just how importance I was going to put onto this one review? It is important. But it is only one review. Granted no other person that has read the book has ever given me a written review. I cannot stress how important it is to receive a written review. It is easy to tell an author "Oh, I loved it." it is a whole different thing to write down exactly what it was that you loved about the book. I know this from both sides of the review, as I also write reviews professionally for other authors. Telling someone exactly what you think of their work can be difficult but it is an important part of the process. That being said... how important is this review? It might get a bit more notice because it was written by someone that I never met and hence never spoke to about the book. It is therefore taken strictly from what they read.
First off, I like that they got the inspiration part. Considering that the story is about an abused child, weaving in the inspiration was tricky and I so wanted it to be easily picked out. I'm glad that it was. Next, the covers are always a big problem for me even with the help of Cover creator on create space. The cover is the first piece of the story. It must fit in somehow and help to give people visual clarity. So that was a second success.
The next point that the reviewer makes really is the one that made me the happiest. You all know how I labor over character development. I want my characters to feel real, not manufactured. I guess I managed to achieve that goal with Cali and Connie as they were the main characters in the book, at least they were the ones that you could ultimately like at the end. To be honest I was so involved with Cali's life that I really didn't work very hard at developing her, but Connie, that's a different matter all together. From the very start I have tried to develop Connie as more than just the side kick. She is more than that. She is Cali's anchor and for her to be that to Cali she must be more than just the side kick. She needs to be a person that has developed along the way just as Cali has developed. Connie needs to be more than just the person that felt sorry for Cali or that just made Cali into a project. It needed to be more than that, so I worked at developing Connie and honestly I still work at it. In each book I try to give her more flesh, more... substance of character.
The final comment is nice. It means that the book, although a bit raw in subject matter is still easy to read and follow. That's a nice compliment that I will gladly tuck into my pocket. Sometimes I think that my writing is too simple so then I try to get more technical or more detailed and end up cutting it all out later. This is a good reminder to me to just trust my first judgment when writing. Generally the first thing I write is the right thing. It may need some refining but it doesn't generally need rewriting.
Which brings us to the not so good comment, that the ending might be too vague. I leave Cali hanging. In a way I do leave her hanging. How do you define what she wants to do with her life? She wants to bring light to the darkness. She wants to liberate abused children. But how will she accomplish this goal? I didn't know then and I don't know now. Yes I've written more books and brought Cali forward in time, but she is far from her goal.
Did I consciously leave it hanging like that? No, not really. I just had no other way to end it. Because honestly so long as the Silent War rages in this country there can be no ending for Cali. Did I think of that when I wrote her story? I don't think so. When I wrote Veteran, my mind was on a mission. I had no idea at the time that it would be used the way it is now being used, nor did I consider writing more about Cali. But now, it just seems like the natural thing to do.
Should I consider rewriting the ending of Veteran? I will consider it. But as I said this is only one review. I would love to hear the thoughts of others that have read the story. I do give this review enough weight to at least consider rewriting the ending. Perhaps I will suggest some of the career choices that Cali has available to her. That might be enough to fill that question. I don't really know. But I will look at it.
So please is there anyone out there that has read Veteran and would like to give me a written review? Please just hit reply and tell me what you think.
Speaking of replies. I got one on one of the older posts from January. Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you think. I invite more dialog with anyone. I answered the reply if you are interested.
Anyway.... It's my Sunday... I'm going to go be lazy... after I clean the house and do the laundry.
Be good to each other.