Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reviews; the good, the bad, and the ugly...

The first reviews for my short story are in. Originally I wasn't going to pay attention to the reviews; you can't please everyone after all, and in a world where 50 Shades of Grey and the Crossfire Series are popular, who would want a normal boy meets girl story that has minor angst and no BDSM? However, after I saw that I had sold a few copies, my curiosity quickly got the better of me and I decided to see what people were saying about my story online.

I should have stuck to my guns.

The reviews aren't good. They complain that the story is too short, that 'it's meh' and 'a mess'. I've gotten mostly one and two stars, though there is a person who gave it five (and I strongly suspect that that person was a friend who took pity on me).

I'm surprised and at the same time I'm not really surprised. I knew that the short story wasn't my best, but I still thought it was pretty fun read. My betas agreed and said they enjoyed it - and they're not the type of people to lie just to appease my ego. The complaints that it's too short really astound me though - I gave multiple warnings that it wasn't very long and was the first in a series. I also made sure to price it appropriately for the length.

I won't deny that I'm very tempted to just throw in the towel and give upon writing adult contemporary romance for the moment. I mean, if this story got this review, who's to say that the next one will do any better? But these stories have been plaguing me so long (though not nearly as long as TUO or the Descendants) that I can't just give up on them. And just because a couple of people don't like the story doesn't mean that everyone's going to hate it. Maybe it's just not their cup of tea.

How do you handle bad reviews, oh dear and wise readers who have probably published way more than I have?

Despite all this negativity, there has been some really bright spots this week. The Husband got a job (Yay!) and started work on Monday. Unfortunately, his shift starts at 6:00 am (ugh) and in order to spend more time with him I've changed my hours at work so now my shift starts at 6:00 am too. It turns out hi job is just down the street from a farmer's market! I look forward to stocking up on fresh veggies on a regular basis.

We also had a really enjoyable Halloween hanging out with some friends and going trick-or-treating with our god kids. This was followed up with an amazing after Halloween Halloween Party, where we were able to spend time with some people we haven't seen since July. Another guest at the party had one of these:

I kinda want one now.

In addition to that I finally found a dress form that doesn't cost an arm and a leg - so I don't have to keep borrowing my friends. I also have a couple of sewing commissions coming up and I should have new items posted in the store this weekend.

And even if my romantic short story flopped horribly, at least TUO and The Descendants seem to be thriving quite well. And Mary the practical prostitute is keeping me on my toes with her adventures. Also, now I know how to format an ebook properly (copying and pasting from google docs into the nook press manuscript editor is not a good idea) and how to design a decent looking ebook cover (which I'm tempted to start doing for others...)

And now for WIPpet Wednesday!

WIPpet Wednesday is run by KL Schwengel. To participate, just share a portion of the story you're working on that some how correlates with the date, and then add your blog to the link thingamabob here.

I was originally going to share more of Maya's prologue, but the scene I'm currently on isn't flowing as well as I'd like. I've rewritten it three times and I'm still not happy with it. So, for this week I'll share more of Mary's story, and hopefully we can return to Maya next week :)

Since today is 11/6/13, here is 6 paragraphs from Mary's untitled story.

Evandora Mince was not what one expected when they thought of a brothel owner. A prim matron of sixty, she wore her steel grey hair in a tight chignon, and preferred to dress in somber black dresses instead of some of the more flamboyant gowns other Madams in Partridge wore. Appearances were deceiving however -- rumor was that she had been quite a stunning beauty in her youth. Supposedly she had had the King wrapped around her pinky at one time, and they had danced, naked, in the royal gardens beneath the moonlight many a time.

Eventually she had grown older. While some women remained handsome in their later years, that had not been the case for Madam Mince; her face was lined with wrinkles and age spots dotted her skinny hands. The gossips said that the King had set her aside in favor of marrying a princess from the continent and soon her other clients quickly followed suit. However, she had been given several gifts during their time as a lady, and, being a smart woman, Evandora had sold them and opened her own house.

Mary hoped to do the same thing one day, but as she didn’t have a royal client, she was forced to scrimp and save every penny she earned in order to make her dream a reality. This most recent fantasy of the judge’s would put her very close to her goal though . . .

“His honor was very pleased with you last night.”

She had assumed as much when she had seen the coins he had left on her bedside table as a gift, but she smiled anyways. “I’m glad to hear it.”

“He wanted to book you for a weekend appointment during All Hallows.” Madam Mince continued to flip through the letters, occasionally tossing one or two onto the fire.

“Yes, I was thinking we might use the country house for it.”

“I talked him into having the encounter here.”  

“The country house would really be more appropriate . . .”

“I am not opening it up just for one man. It’s too late in the season, and it’ll cost too much to heat.”

“Yes ma’am.” Mary bowed her head.

“And it’ll only be a day.”

Her heart sank at the thought of all the crowns she would be missing out on as a result of the change. “Madam . . .”

“The Masquerade will be that weekend. Our guest list is quite considerable, and I will need all my girls available.” She glanced over her glasses at Mary. “Do you understand Marie?”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Good.” Madam Mince finally sat the approved mail down in a dish for a servant to remove and disperse among the girls. “Now about Hannah. I have a gentleman interested in booking an appointment for her.”

“What?” Mary gasped in surprise. “She’s not finished training yet!”

To see more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here 
To see more ROW 80 updates, go here 


  1. hmmm so protective over Hannah or is it just that she really doesn't think the girl is ready? Hate when things don't go as planned. =P

    1. The latter - though Mary does care for Hannah and can be protective of her, she really doesn't think she's ready yet.

  2. Ah, Madam Mince, such an interesting past you have. And how enterprising to save enough to open her own brothel. You describe her very well and I get a very clear image of her and her personality.

    Congrats to the hubby on the job. :)

    Bad reviews . . . you'll never escape them. As you said, not every piece is for every reader. And, unfortunately, everyone is entitled to their opinion. What matters most is how you feel about the work. If you are happy with it, if you feel it succeeded, then don't let the reviews get you down.

    1. Thank you! Madam Mince is definitely an interesting character. Sadly this is the only glimpse of her history that I've had a chance to see - I imagine she has some much more interesting tales to share ;)

      I think the reviews just were a bit of a shock after getting such positive feedback here and on other sites. I'm now feeling a bit better about them, and trying to use them constructively even though their feedback is less than useful.

  3. I have several collections of my previously published short stories out, and I regularly get reviews complaining about the short stories being short -- even though I specifically mention the lengths in the description, usually word count and pages numbers as well. If you write short stories, you can't avoid reviews that expect every book to be a novel.

    Intriguing excerpt!

    1. Thank you.

      I'm sorry to hear you've been getting negative comments about length on short stories as well :(

  4. Sorry to hear about the bad reviews, Christina. It seems like there always has to be a few people mean enough out there who can't simply say "It wasn't my thing" but have to regale us with effusive details as to WHY it wasn't their thing.

    Remember... this is about THEM, not your story. They're the ones who need to get their heads straight and fix things, because they're the ones calling so much attention to the 'problems'.

    Sounds lik othe things are going well though. And your scene about Mary? I like it. You've really given each woman a distinct voice.

    (Sorry about not replying sooner, btw; I was having a devil of a time trying to get anything to post to Blogger all week even though I have a regular Blogger account.)

    1. Thank you! I always worry if my characters sound too much alike sometimes. It's one of my major concerns with Descendants right now actually.

  5. I enjoyed the voice in this excerpt and your description of Madam Mince. I, too, published a short story in April of this year. It was my first piece, and I haven't pushed for its publicity too hard, in part because my next book I'm writing is the WlPpet I've been sharing, and the audience I want to build for that is completely different from the inspirational short story. Also, I had three anonymous professional reviews, and they all showed the flaws in the story that now I can't help but see and think about it when I talk about the book. Still, I don't regret its publication. I needed it so I could know the process, get my feet wet, and know what to do better next time (which is give it a more thorough editing process). So here's a high five to publishing your short story. It's a start! Don't ever regret that, and please don't let the reviews stop you. I loved this quote I saw on Facebook the other day. "A professional writer is an amateur who never gave up." Don't remember who it's by, but I love it!

    1. Thank you. I saw that quote on Facebook as well, and I loved it too :)