Train-crash Ending of SHAMEFUL Explained.

I often use my blog to address feedback of my novels. I figure this is a good way to give readers insight into my psyche. That plot device that you liked or hated–this is your opportunity to learn why I dared to write it that way. This is your glimpse into my mind. More than likely, I agree with your assessment, but there was a reason for the madness at the time I wrote it. I share those reasons here, and store your opinions in my brain for future stories.

Today: Dicey’s commentary on the “train-crash ending” of SHAMEFUL (Taboo Fiction).

Just so you know, this novel is about a thirty-nine-year-old married mother of three, who has an affair with a sixteen-year-old, who also happens to be her fourteen-year-old daughter’s crush. So, yes. A BUNCH of craziness goes on.

I have been prepared for outrage and negativity over this story since before I finished writing it. I expected people to read the synopsis, say “Hell no”, and not bother reading it at all. Yep. That has happened. I’ve also expected to hear, “That’s gross. You’re sick. There’s nothing sexy about statutory rape.” And you betcha. I’ve gotten that too.

Cool.

Like every single one of my books, SHAMEFUL is not for everybody.

Thankfully, I’ve had more people tell me they loved it than not, or I probably would have retired from writing by now.

Today’s commentary is for readers like Author Jiva Fang, who read it, liked it, but wondered how things ended up the way they did. This is part of her Amazon review to illustrate today’s focus:

“I mean, we were step by step with her emotions and thoughts from the beginning and suddenly the character was on an insane, irrational, suicidal/homicidal trip and I didn’t *quite* make the jump with her.”

Normally, I’d just post the comment or review and give my thoughts on it. This time, I actually have the pleasure of posting my full (unedited) conversation with Jiva about this subject. Yay! It’s surprisingly not too spoilery.

Dicey: I get what you’re saying about how Joanne starting flipping out and doing things that were out of character. Aside from trying to keep the ending unpredictable, I also tried to show how she really descended from sanity to obsession. I can’t think of a book that demonstrates what I’m talking about at the moment, but movies like Damage (starring Juliette Binoche and Jeremy Irons), David’s Birthday (Massimo Poggio and Thyago Alves), and Unfaithful (Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and Olivier Martinez) show the obsession I’m talking about. These movies showed characters that ended up doing things they never would have and many times, things that made absolutely no sense but they couldn’t seem to help themselves. They were obsessed with the objects of their affections and rational thought seemed to be nonexistent. I thought Jo’s feelings for Alex were obsessive to the point of destructive too.

I hope this sheds a little light into why I wrote it that way. I may need to do a blog post about since I see another reviewer said it was a “train-crash” ending. LOL I understand everyone won’t like where the story ended, but maybe I can let readers know my thought process behind it…if they’re curious to know. grin Thanks again! *smooches*

Jiva: I really understood her flipping out.. I am sometimes a very analytical reader and I think what i wanted to see was the “moment” when she went bonkers…and after i wrote the review i thought.. maybe what i was looking for wasn’t there for me as the reader, because Joanne herself didn’t know when it occurred… for her there wasn’t a conscious moment.

I remembered then, her thoughts after reading the diary, and how i expected her to immediately lash out at her daughter about the blackmail.. I was surprised at the turn her thoughts took but in hindsight I’ve had moments in life like that. smile

I loved the book. I wish i would get around to “Bonded Soul” but I’m still working on my own vampires and I’m afraid of “borrowing” ideas.

Dicey: “but in hindsight I’ve had moments in life like that”–LOL Me too. Let’s just hope I never meet an “Alex” in real life…Just kidding. Maybe. grin Do you mind if I blog about this convo? I can exclude your name or include it, whichever you prefer. If there’s something more you want me to include or exclude from the post, let me know. I’m always down for other author promos on my blog too.

Girl, get your vampire story on! I gotta tell–I wish I had more hours in the day. I’m always torn between picking up someone else’s book to read and writing my own. I’d have 5 more books published within this year if I could focus on writing. I’m constantly distracted by movies/tv shows too. Anyhoo…thanks again. I look forward to your vampire novels!

Jiva: lol.. I wish I could get the books moving faster as well.. I have soo many stories running and my so-called “real job” too.. I know it has to be worse for you as a lawyer.
Chances are you’ll see my Shifters before my vampires, but hopefully something new by the end of this year.

I don’t mind if you blog any of this.. I’m also okay with you using my name…
I spent many years buying into that “strong black women don’t need therapy” crap. I think as a community, if we were freer with the dialogue about “issues”, instead of hiding and condemning, we’d be healthier as a whole. Then we wouldn’t have verbs like “snap” and “blacked-out” to our credit.

That’s one of the reasons I loved “Shameful”.. even though the subject might’ve been a bit of the path for many of us, you reached into the character and put her issues on display in a way that ANY woman could relate to. As they say: “there but for the grace of God…”

So blog away…

Dicey: Thanks, Jiva! It’ll be two posts from now.

I have to say writing is definitely my therapy. I’ve displayed “angry black woman syndrome” enough times to know I need a healthy outlet. Working out helps a bit too, but writing fiction is really where it’s at. I should have started a long time ago and said to heck with grad and law school. lol

Keep writing!

—————————————————————————————————————-

Thanks so much, Jiva! Much success to you in your writing endeavors. Sorry it took me over a month to post this.

NOTE: Jiva didn’t actually say my novel had a train-crash ending. Another reviewer did. I just thought the heading was very fitting since I was addressing it anyway. Be sure to check out Jivafang.com.

You can find more author commentaries to reader feedback under the Critics Corner category to the right–>

As mentioned many times, I appreciate ALL reviews, positive and negative. Keep ’em coming! If you have something specific you’d like me to address, leave a comment about it or email me: author at diceygrenorbooks dot com.

What The Hell Is Erotica?

I’ve never thought of myself as an erotica writer, so imagine my surprise when some readers called The Narcoleptic Vampire Series “vampire porn”. Really? Ha! Total shock for me. But I’ve heard it enough by now to make me wonder if it is.

After reading Time Entertainment’s interview with ZANE, the “Queen of Erotica”, I really found myself wondering whether I miscategorized my series, especially when Zane says: “For me, I’m just doing what I must do, what I’m passionate about. I use sex as a segue to deal with a lot of deeper issues. I don’t feel like I am a sex writer or even an erotica writer. I would describe myself as a very detailed writer who does not tone down her sex scenes.”

I feel that 100%.

I’ve always believed erotica didn’t really have a storyline. It was mainly sex, sex, and mo’ sex. I’m not really interested in a book that’s only several sex scenes strung together. But I read Addictedby Zane when it first came out years ago, and I liked it a lot. I didn’t even know it was considered erotica. There was definitely an entertaining story interlinking all the sex, yet it’s mostly known for the racy sex scenes.

Like my series.

Does that mean I should be targeting a more erotica-loving audience?

Since my most recent literary influences and inspirations have come from my love of paranormal fiction, I just automatically thought my series would fit there snugly. Maybe I was wrong…particularly since I have to constantly warn people about the graphic scenes. You’ll even find a note on my webpage that says Dicey’s books are NOT erotica, although sex scenes are explicit.

So you see? Writing erotica wasn’t my intent at all. Fact is, I don’t write scenes to be erotic. I go for SHOCKING. Now that I’ve done more digging in this world of categories, I’m a bit confused. Am I writing porn that happens to include a good story or am I just writing a good story with graphic scenes?

Never mind that I took the liberty of calling my story good. What do you think is closer to the truth?

More specifically–for anyone who has read Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul (The Narcoleptic Vampire Series book 1)–Which do you think would be a proper label for it: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, vampire erotica, erotic paranormal, or something else? Do you think Sleepy Willow’s Heartless Soul (The Narcoleptic Vampire Series book 2) should have the same label or does it differ?

This is why I hate labels, by the way. I don’t like being boxed in. Not when it comes to religion, sexuality, or political party either. Getting my books in the right marketing channel is important, however, if I’m going to spread my poison around the globe. 😉

Note: If you’re reading this blog and have not read book 1 of this series but want to in order to give me feedback, just leave a comment and ask for it. I’ll give three FREE Kindle editions. You have to actually READ the book and give me feedback though…or I’ll add you as a character in Sleepy Willow’s Loosed Soul (book 3) that I’m currently writing. And you won’t like what happens to the character. 😀

If your comment doesn’t appear right away, please give me time to moderate it. Whenever I post something that has “sex” in it, porn sites spam my blog like crazy. I’ll have a lot of them to weed through. Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to your honest opinions.

Where Are The Black Men In Your Book?

I’ve been delaying commentary on this question/criticism for a while, but it’s time I address it. Each time I’ve been asked why there are no black men in Sleepy Willow, the reader has first said he or she LOVED the book but…where are the black men. So, I’m not sure if this is really criticism or just an observation. A somewhat inaccurate one. Nevertheless, I’ll try to answer the question thoroughly.

First–Punch is a black man. Remember him? The HUGE black man in my story? He looks something like bodybuilder Ulisses Williams, Jr. in my head:

Nice, huh?

But, I get it. Punch is not the main love interest for my heroine. That’s really the issue, isn’t it? The romance is between Willow, a black female vampire and Remi, who is…not black. So ladies and gentleman, what we have here is an interracial relationship, right? Willow’s maistre vampire, Maximilian, is…not black. That’s another one. Willow’s boss, Franco, is…not black. Another one. Willow’s nemesis, Agent Monroe, isn’t either. I could keep going down the list, but by now, if you haven’t read it, you’re beginning to understand that this is not an African-American novel. It is a multi-cultural one.

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing those who asked about the absence of black men within the story are wondering why 1) the lead female doesn’t have a black love interest since she’s black, and/or 2) why there aren’t more black men because…I am a black woman author. As in, why would a black woman author not have more black men in her books, like Terry McMillan or Sista Souljah or Zane.

It’s simple, really: it’s already been done a million times or more and I strive hard to make my books unique. I’m leaving the AA fiction to the women listed above and delving into more risque’ material. More controversial stuff. I’m adding several layers of wild and daring, not just one. I’m going beyond an older woman, younger man scenario (McMillan) and drugs and abortion (Souljah) and threesomes (Zane), though I applaud these women for writing books I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Secondly, I did everything I could to make each part of my book a surprise. When you find out Willow’s black–surprise. And when you find out everyone else’s race, religion, love interest, supernatural gift–surprise.

Willow + Punch = predictable. Predictable–> Boring.

I worked hard to keep my book UNPREDICTABLE. (Side note: I’m overjoyed that most of the reviewers respected this and posted non-spoiler reviews. Thanks!)

The Narcoleptic Vampire Series is not the only one featuring an interracial relationship, but you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of paranormal romance/dark urban fantasy stories with a black female lead (first hurdle) who has a non-black romantic interest (nearly nonexistent). And that, my friends, is one of the reasons I wrote it that way.

But that’s not all.

Truth is–in order to answer this question entirely, I’d have to reveal more secrets of my creative writing process. And you know how much I hate doing that. *Being sarcastic, of course.* But seriously, you’d need to know where my ideas come from and how I develop my characters to understand how each one is written the way he or she is.

In this old post, I discussed how Remi’s character was inspired by Nir Lavi. In this old post, I discussed how Joe Manganiello inspired my character Dario. I get inspiration from random input and I run with it. Lots of times, it comes from watching a movie, developing a very short-lived crush on a character or actor, and allowing my imagination to run rampant.

If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, you know Tom Hardy has recently inspired a character or two. For sure. But I have to write my thoughts out now before I lose interest. There will be another flavor of the week really soon. Which means I’ll be inspired to write about different characters with different story lines. I’ll have to chuck the deuce to Tom and welcome my new inspiration.

More so than that, I have a nondiscriminatory policy. I like and dislike men equally. White, black, yellow, green. Doesn’t matter, as long as something stands out about him.

Hey, I just had an idea for a good green character. Wait a minute. I think Laurell K. Hamilton did that in in her Merry Gentry Fae series.

Anyway…

I have to write about whatever I feel most drawn to at the moment. Whatever is churning around in my brain and won’t let me rest until I’ve written about it…him or her–that’s how it works.

I’ve had crushes on Shemar Moore (until I met him in Atlanta while he was filming Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He was gorgeous and nice. I just lost interest after seeing him as a mere mortal), Vin Diesel (not sure he’s black, but he keeps popping up on black men lists), Tyson Beckford (gloriously chocolate), Taye Diggs (wowsie!), Morris Chestnut (I mean, did you SEE him in The Best Man?), Blair Underwood (holy moly), and Will Smith (when he’s not being silly). Just to name a few. But I can no longer write about a character based on them since I don’t feel passionately drawn to them at the moment.

Now you know the method to my madness.

I have a black man at home. A good-looking, athletic one. He’s agreed to pose for an upcoming promotion for Sleepy Willow part 2, by the way…but damn. I’m rambling today. My point is–I have a black man at home so I probably won’t develop a crush on many. Why? You got it–because that’s not different. A Brit with tats, an accent, and THOSE lips…that’s another story altogether. Yeah, I’m talking about Tom again.

Funny thing–other than Idris Elba, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith, you don’t see a lot of black men featured in sexy roles on the big screen much at all. I may have to go on a hunt and find one to base a character on, after all. Any suggestions?

I may have just wasted my time and yours trying to explain this because what you could have been asking was: “Dicey, I just love your book so much and love the characters and I’d like to see more men like Punch in your books because he’s totally hot and I love reading about black men and since you wrote one awesome black male character, I was hoping you’d write more.”

Okay. I’ll do my best. Let’s see how the mood/inspiration strikes me. 🙂

Good And Bad Feedback Welcomed.

I have a confession: Some days are harder than others when it comes to expressing myself creatively. Sometimes the ideas flow smoothly like a river after several days of rain. Other days, there are things in my brain that get in the way. I’ve noticed a major influence on my state of mind is the feedback I receive from readers. When someone is overjoyed about my books, I’m on cloud 9, so I write like I have a direct link to the heavens. It’s hell’s fire on the brain when the feedback is harsh.

But I’ve been lucky, thus far. Most has been positive. In fact, all the reviews on Amazon have made me smile. Big. I’m not dumb enough to think it’s going to remain that way though. Last week, I made the Kindle edition of both of my books FREE for forty-eight hours. With over two thousand downloads, I was excited to gain the exposure. Excited to know there was that much interest. Excited, knowing more reviews would pour in. Eventually. Hopefully. There will be some good, some bad, and everything in between. I just know it.

So I’m putting on my mental body armor. Shielding myself from comments that will keep me up at night pacing the floor, doubting myself. The sort of comments that will make finishing this sequel difficult because in the back of my mind I’d be thinking about what others think.

My strategy? In addition to focusing on 1) comments from readers who enjoy my work and their encouragement to keep going, 2) my maniacal drive to be the best I can be at ANYTHING, and 3) my betas wrapping me tightly with positivism and good vibes, I’ve been 4) stalking following those that I deem successful in their crafts. Following them to see how they deal with everything people have to say about their creations. Following authors, business people, actors, talk show hosts, musicians, models, athletes–everyone–to see how they respond to positive  feedback and how they handle criticism. Folks like Oprah and Beyonce’, who get criticized left and right, but still manage to be at the top of any list they are featured on.

I’ve mentioned on my blog before how much I enjoy Larissa Ione‘s books. And as much as I consider them FIVE STAR readings, there have been many others who think the Demonica series and the Lords of Deliverance (Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) series are trash. WTF! You mean, two people can read the same book and walk away from it with polarizing views? Amazing, isn’t it? That’s the very reason I asked her this via email:

Dicey: “Two people can read the same book with one loving it and the other hating it. Having readers love your books is awesome, but how do you deal with criticism?”

And she was kind enough to respond back with this:

Larissa: “Okay, how do I deal with criticism? Well, honestly, it depends on the criticism. Some of it I can laugh off. I recently got a review on Amazon to the effect of “There were so many curse words that I wonder if the author can write a book without them.” Heh. And he can stop wondering because the answer is “Why the hell would I do that?” 🙂 In all seriousness, criticism can hurt, but I’ve learned to avoid reviews when I can. Sometimes they find you, but I don’t go intentionally looking for them. Also, the skin does thicken over time. Reviews that KILLED me when I first was published now are barely shrug-worthy. It’s a process!”

Dicey: I am seriously fan-girling over this. Thanks!

You know what I take away from this? 1) Laugh it off sometimes. Whenever you can, really. 2) If it’s a matter of taste, they can get another book. Writers don’t change  contents for readers. 3) Criticism may hurt, so avoid reading reviews if you can. 4) I’m still new to the game, but it’ll get easier over time.

LOVE IT! No, I don’t get paid for this endorsement. I just really love her books. And I like that she’s accessible to fans. She also said she was going to read mine, which tickles me senseless. She could have just been saying it to be nice, but whatever. I’ll take it.

Okay. I said I was watching LOTS of accomplished folks, right? Well, Tom Hardy is my crush/muse of the week. Really going on two weeks now. I LOVE him! He’s so crazy. Has a totally unbridled tongue. Doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He says what he wants, and whatever happens, happens. That’s my kinda guy. I lifted this from an interview he did with Novid Parsi, Time Out Chicago on February 15, 2012:

Novid: You’ve been a straight talker in interviews, saying you want adulation as an actor, you’ve sexually experimented with guys—not typical things to hear from a rising film star. Is it getting trickier to remain that publicly frank?

Tom: I have to be more careful about how outspoken I am, which is a shame ’cause things get taken out of context. And at the end of the day, 30 percent of the people are gonna hate you, 30 percent are gonna like you, and another 30 percent of people just don’t give a shit, so you’re really only talking to one in three.

Dicey: Oh, God. How can I meet Tom? We’ll make it a double date. Bring Charlotte. I’ll bring the hubby…

But seriously, he made a good point. One that’s been mentioned time and time again, without his sexy British accent: you can’t please everybody. *turning the finger back to myself* Dicey, you can’t please everyone. Don’t try. Just be grateful for the ones who get you.

That being said, I welcome ALL feedback on my books. If you love ’em, tell the world. If you don’t, tell the world. Make sure you tell them why though. Too much profanity? Too much sex? Too many controversial issues (ie. abortion, rape, interracial relationships, abuse, gore, homosexuality, deviant sex…)? Believe it or not–somebody’s going to think that’s a plus. Oh, yeah. 🙂

As of today, there are fifteen 5-star and six 4-star reviews for Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series Book 1 on Amazon. There are three 5-star and one 4-star review for Shameful.

This calls for celebration! Cheers!

Writing To Entertain, Not To Pass A Test.

I mentioned in my last post: “Negative opinions and criticism can be hard to deal with about something we writers work so hard to create. But it comes with the territory. We lay our souls and hearts and feelings on the line for anyone with a platform to shout out how much they love or hate our work. It can be brutal.” So today, I’d like to continue talking about some of the criticism I’ve received for my novel Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series Book 1.

Most often I’ve heard “I love your writing style”, but once someone called it weird and felt words were missing. I learned that this person considered herself a writer as well, and all I can say is–I probably would not enjoy her writing style either. As with a lot of books, it would probably be too wordy for me. But that’s just me.

This is what I had to say about my writing style in the last post: “I write the way I prefer to read–in the most basic way of saying the most convoluted things. Bare bones. Choppy. Straight to the point.”

I learned this was the style I preferred to read during the year prior to writing Sleepy Willow–when I read FORTY-SIX fiction books.

So about my choppy writing style…

Let me just throw this out there right now–I know how to write. Throughout high school, undergrad, grad, and law school, writing was my STRONG area. I didn’t get straight A’s on writing assignments for nothing. I didn’t win national writing awards for nothing. Friends, colleagues, and professors didn’t come to me to edit their papers and journal articles…I didn’t ghost as a work-for-hire writer on assignments…or become a senior law review editor…for nothing. I know about subject and verb agreement, and that run-ons are a no-no. I can write as technical and as grammatically correct as the next one. I know how to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, how to spell, and how to use some pretty big words doing it. And what I don’t know–I know how to research to find the answer.

This is not me bragging, dear reader, because none of this has anything to do with writing fiction. Knowing the rules for writing a convincing legal brief does me no good when it comes to entertaining a reader looking for an escape into an exciting imaginary world. All those rules have to go out the window because they are BORING.

The first draft of my novel Shameful contained very few errors but it was 156k words. YIKES! There’s no way all those words were necessary. I had to edit and edit and edit and edit some more until I got it down to 95k. NOW it reads like a novel. Now, it can be enjoyed. Or hated, depending on how you feel about Joanne cheating with a sixteen-year-old.

I had to remember I was writing to entertain, not to pass a writing test.

I’ll use paragraphs from the first chapter to illustrate how I write.

1. I use fragments and incomplete sentences to emphasize points: “Once I heard the smoke machine fogging the stage and felt the spotlight center on my coffin, I slowly raised the lid and held it there to give their human eyes a moment to adjust to the fog. To focus on me in the darkness.” Here, I’m emphasizing that they have to focus on her in the darkness. And I combine sentences to keep from breaking the flow.

2. I omit useless and unnecessary words: “Couldn’t see Remi through the white wraps across my eyes, but I smelled him. Sensed his essence, his soul. He was alone at his usual table on the far left near the stage, wearing his usual intoxicating cologne. I smelled his cigarette in the ashtray and liquor in his glass. Knew I’d taste a hint of both in his blood later, but it would still be hot, thick and delicious.” I don’t have to say “I couldn’t see Remi” or “I sensed his essence and soul” or “I knew I’d taste”. It’s implied. Anyone with enough sense to read, has enough sense to get the implication. Without the extra words it moves faster. Pacing is important in fiction.

Given all the profanity and grit in the chapter, that may be all the illustrations I should include here. That’s enough to make my point though, right? Or perhaps my use of profanity and grit is illustration #3. 🙂

There you have it. I prefer writing this way. Since my betas love it, I think I’ll stick to it.

Of course, there is no ONE right style. Authors should do what works for them. Readers should read what they most enjoy. Our differences make us interesting.

More criticism/feedback with author commentary to come. Examples: 1. Where are the black men in your story? 2. Willow gets her butt kicked WAY too much. 3. Your story’s well-edited. What’s your secret? I also have a comment or two from other authors on how they deal with criticism. Larissa Ione, one of my faves, took the time to write me back about this, so look out for her thoughts on it.

If you have read my novel and have something you’d like me to address, by all means comment below. I’d be happy to. You know me by now–no topic is off-limits.

Sizzling Hot Or Cheap And Nasty?

I’m taking a break from posting interviews to discuss feedback I’ve received from my novel Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series. Oh, I have plenty of authors, musicians, and filmmakers coming up…but if you’re following my blog, chances are you want to know more about ME and MY work. If not, humor me.

Yes, I knew writing about fetishes, using the *s* and *f* bombs unsparingly, and including supernatural creatures with a proclivity towards evil (ie. demons, ghosts, vampires) would attract some criticism. But I’m okay with some NOT loving the subject matter or my in-your-face writing style. I’m okay with folks, in many cases, choosing to opt-out of reading it altogether based on the synopsis or first chapter excerpt. In fact, that’s the reason chapter one is available AND why I have warnings about my book posted everywhere AND why I caution people repeatedly against reading it if they are easily offended or of the squeamish variety.

Side note: my husband often asks me why I try to talk people out of reading my book. I don’t. I just try to get it in the hands of my targeted readers and away from those who have hangups (or preferences against the aforementioned) that would prevent them from enjoying it.

Point is–1) I’m not changing the content. I write about things I like to read. 2) I’m not changing my writing style. I write the way I prefer to read–in the most basic way of saying the most convoluted things. Bare bones. Choppy. Straight to the point. And judging by all twenty of the 5 and 4-star reviews on Amazon, I don’t have to change a thing.

Oh, sure. I know the current reviews are not indicative of ALL reader opinions. I know doggone well everyone doesn’t and wouldn’t love my novel. Which is a good thing since I didn’t write it to please everybody…and would never be able to achieve that anyway. Some of my absolutely favorite books have lots of scathing reviews by people who hated them. I’m not above this sort of scrutiny.

In the words of Douglas Meeks, a well-respected editor, reviewer and avid reader: “The day you write something nobody can complain about is the day you probably wrote something not worth reading.”

Agreed. And thanks for the encouragement, Doug.

Currently, the reviews of my book reflect the opinions of those who enjoyed it and took the time to write a review. [THANK YOU! BTW :)] It shows that I did a fairly decent job of getting my novel to those most likely to enjoy it than those who aren’t. There are some hit and misses along the way though. Some who read the first few chapters and decided they couldn’t handle it, didn’t bother posting a one-star review with one of those “I just couldn’t get through it” remarks. They moved on to another book more suitable to their tastes. But I know about some of them because of random Facebook posts, emails, calls and texts. As far as I know, they lost nothing more than a few minutes of their time since I had given the copies for free.

Negative opinions and criticism can be hard to deal with about something we writers work so hard to create. But it comes with the territory. We lay our souls and hearts and feelings on the line for anyone with a platform to shout out how much they love or hate our work. It can be brutal. It can also be rewarding. I happen to value constructive criticism about how my story can improve because it makes me a better writer. Opinions based on taste don’t. Those will go in one ear, out the other.

For instance, readers of my targeted group have called my novel “hot” and “sizzling”. Pretty neat, huh? Well, the harshest comment I’ve received so far went something like: I couldn’t get past the first 15% of the book. I just couldn’t get into the writing style. There seems to be words missing that makes it weird. It’s cheap and nasty. I don’t mind sex scenes, but I couldn’t believe how gross it was right from page one. I found it offensive.

Ouch! But oddly…true.

I’ll write more about my bare bones writing style in a continuation of this post. Today, as the title indicates, I want to focus on the “cheap and nasty” part.

My initial reaction to it was “how dare she…”, but that only lasted a hot minute because I realized it wasn’t her fault. She happened to have gotten her hands on my book without proper warning. With my BEWARE notice, she could have decided if it was right for her long before digging in and being offended. I’d looked at her reviewer profile and taken it for granted that she would be comfortable with the content. Her interest, based on the synopsis, wasn’t enough of a sign that she would be my ideal reader or that my book would be ideal for her. She should have been warned.

My bad.

I responded with something to the order of: I’m so sorry you thought it was cheap and nasty. There are several other reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads who thought differently, but I respect your opinion. I usually warn people about the content of my story so that nothing comes across as too much of a shock. It’s a good thing you didn’t have to waste your own money on it. My story is riggidy raw. It is intentionally SEXY, WILD, DARING, and RISKY and not meant for everyone, only those who love paranormal romance and are looking for something VERY different. Then I proceeded to offer a copy to her co-reviewer, who read it, loved it, and wrote a glowing review. WINNING.

I had to keep in mind that if everyone loved my book and no one found it controversial or risqué, I wouldn’t have done my job as the author. How many times must I say I INTENTIONALLY wrote it this way? I did. So somebody better get offended every now and then or I can’t claim “it’s not for the easily offended”, can I?

Being the reasonable person I am, I realize reviews are subjective and a matter of taste. What is “cheap and nasty” for one, may not be for another. Same with “hot and sizzling”. Her description of my book is now something I find amusing. Not just amusing, but a compliment, really. “Why, thank you,” would be my current response.

But Dicey. Isn’t warning people away from your book counterproductive?

Maybe. Definitely, if being productive means I have to sell lots of books. Would I sell more if I didn’t warn people like crazy? You betcha. Would I have more 1-star reviews? Absolutely. Because my book is not for everyone. Isn’t it more important to sell as many books as possible even if you get a lot of people who hate it? NOPE. Not for me.

I love reading, watching movies, and writing. I’m passionate about each, and I love discussing these arts with anyone who shares that passion. Therefore, I’m more interested in sharing my art, my novel, with people who can appreciate it. I want to discuss it with them. To feel the love and passion for my art from them. I’m an author, not a book seller. I want readers, not merely buyers. I say “merely” because having buyers would be nice if they were also fans. If they were part of my targeted group.

With this in mind, my market is smaller. Sales are lower. My options lessened. But I’m okay with that. Why? Because my novel’s unique enough to have a niche following. By this I mean, I’m more likely to have a few readers who love reading SEXY, WILD, DARING, and RISKY books than a mass of readers who do nothing but criticize it to death. You get the message yet? I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it to share my art (perversity, as some would call it) with those daring enough to enjoy it.

That’s my attitude right now. Who knows what the future will bring. If I get desperate enough one day, maybe I’ll write more mainstream, commercial-driven novels.

Don’t hold your breath. I’m having too much fun. 🙂

More criticism/feedback with author commentary to come…

Taboo Fiction–Daring or Scandalous?

In case you haven’t read my previous blog posts, tweets, or FB status updates: I wrote a novel about a beautiful thirty-nine-year-old married mother of three, who has an affair with a sixteen-year-old stud. And I haven’t been struck down by lightning. Yet.

I did get this response on twitter though: “that’s called statutory rape and it’s NOT cool.”

Well, duh. Good thing it’s fiction. And Dicey writes sexy, wild, daring, risky books.

Now that we got that out of the way–I’m not advocating statutory rape. I’m not promoting infidelity. No more than James Patterson encourages murder. Or Jeff Lindsay and the producers of “Dexter” urge you to become a serial killer. Or the producers of “Arlington Road” suggest terrorism.

I merely write fiction. It’s entertainment. And the fact that I’ve not cheated on my husband with a sixteen-year-old is what makes it entertaining. To me. I can get in the mind of my character and understand why she does what she does whether I agree with it or not. I can also understand how things end up the way they do.

And if you find the synopsis interesting, then you might find my novel entertaining as well. If not, stay away from it. It’s only for those who do.

And there are those who do. I also got this tweet: “I want to read that.”

Fair enough.

Fortunately, you can live vicariously through my characters without experiencing their angst. Because my characters aren’t real, but their dilemmas are. Matter of fact, when I was editing my story, I met several people who told me they experienced some of the same things I wrote about or they knew of someone who did. I even met a man who has been the sixteen-year-old boy. It happens. Every day. To your neighbors. Teachers. Justin Beiber (allegedly). It is fiction based in reality. Without all the real life consequences.

This is the Kindle edition of my book. And the Smashwords edition. Paperbacks coming soon.