This has been a very up and down week for me. Finishing a novel is always a combination of relief that it’s finally done (the first draft, anyway), exhilaration that this might be a great novel, and anxiety about the fact that it might actually suck.
My husband, Erich, has learned to avoid reading my work as soon as I’ve finished it, because I’m far too emotionally volatile and defensive about it. My first reaction to anything he says that’s critical is, “What are you talking about? I thought it was perfect! You said you loved me!!!”
So he prefers to give my stories a wide berth, until I’m a little less wrapped up in them.
On the other hand, I do tend to send the stories out to friends for feedback right away. Since they can’t see me marching out to the back yard with the intent to build a volcano and throw myself in, because they e-mailed me that my dialog sounds like it came from an episode of Scooby Doo*, I have a little time to calm down and respond to their e-mail without the melodrama. It’s not that I can’t take criticism — it’s just that I’m prone to theatrics.
By That Sin Fell the Angels is actually getting some great feedback from readers, so far. There have been some valid criticisms to take into account for the next draft, but overall the reaction has been very positive and encouraging.
On the other hand, We’re Both Straight, Right? was released by Dreamspinner Press on Wednesday, and the reception has been somewhat mixed. After an initial 5-star rating from a reader, someone else gave it 3 stars a few hours later. Then it got hit with a 2-star review from a reader who said it was “okay,” but she didn’t really like it.
Well, it’s only been two days. Maybe it will get some more good reviews. I don’t think any professional reviewers have had a look at it yet. But I was spoiled with my first two publications, The Christmas Wager and The Meaning of Vengeance. Both got a lot of good reviews right away, and the few bad ratings kind of came in under the radar.
On the other hand, I was afraid that We’re Both Straight, Right? might be too crude for the M/M audience. Unlike my two previous stories through Dreamspinner, the dialog is raunchy and the characters are realistic college guys — which means they’re occasionally sexist, not always terribly sensitive and one has a pretty low-brow sense of humor. There is a subtle distinction between M/M romance and gay romance, and it’s not in the level of raunchy sex — it’s in the crass behavior that gay men often find sexy, but women often find repugnant.**
Still, some (female) readers have liked these characters and found the romance to be sweet, so maybe there’s hope.
I suppose I should give it a month to see how the general reception is, before I give up writing forever, change my name to Brother Iocabus and become a trappist monk.
*NOTE — I was, in fact, told this once. But by an editor, rather than a reader.
**NOTE — Okay, that’s a broad generalization. I’m sure some women like crude men and I’m even more certain that many men find crude behavior in a guy repugnant. But I often find M/M romances written by women to have main characters that seem overly…polished…to me.