Every time I've published a book I've had the fear that THIS will be the one no one likes. That's why I have a dozen books I haven't published, because each one has a weakness of some kind. Whether they really do have those weaknesses as compared to what I actually sent out into the world, I can't be sure. But since I've had books ready for each window of publishing opportunity that I was happy with, those are the ones I went with.
"Takeover" was a challenge from the start. It started out as character sketches, which I realized could be combined to make a story--which worked for the first third of the book. But then it became TOO challenging--that is, I began to believe it required writing skills I didn't have.
The idea was to make it as realistic as possible and to also deal with the difficult politics and personalities of the real event. It was based on the Malhuer occupation.
After writing about a third of the book, I realized I couldn't quite pull off the realism. I had a choice--continue to write it the way I was or turn it into a thriller.
I turned it into the thriller.
Then I was left with the difficulty of dealing with the first third of the book, which didn't quite work. I mean, it was a valiant effort, but I could see that it didn't have the depth I was hoping for. I moved chapters around, tried to fit it in, but it wasn't coming together. I set it aside.
When "Deadfall Ridge" did so well, I decided I could turn the main protagonist of "Takeover" into Hart Davis. Wrote a couple of new chapters, rewrote the other early chapters, and damn if it didn't work.
But the difficulties with the plot remained. I tried hard to smooth them over, to be ruthless in cutting out parts I liked which no longer fit. It has too many characters, basically, with first person viewpoints, but that was sorta the point.
In the end, I thought I came up with a pretty good thriller with some political developments and some characterizations that I liked. I also thought it was possible that the politics would turn people off, though I tried to be even-handed. In fact, I thought I might piss off both sides of the divide.
I waited anxiously for the reaction. It sold better than most books, probably because of the connection to "Deadfall Ridge," but I've gotten only one review, a three star:
"Interesting, but hard to follow at times.. I can't see the native Americans not getting into the story more"
Fair enough. I knew the number of narrators was going to be confusing.
Meanwhile, I've gotten 15 ratings on Goodreads, coming in at a 3.60 level. A number of one stars, which are unexplained. So that would be the worst ranking of all the newer books. It could be because of the politics--I wouldn't be surprised--but it could also be because it was a difficult format.
But you know what? The more time passes, the happier I am with this book. I think it has some real merit. It may not have come out perfectly, but its got some true substance to it.
So now I know how I would react to less than glowing reviews. It doesn't faze me, as it turns out, because I'm proud of the effort. I'm taking another look at the books I've set aside. They all have merit, as far as I'm concerned. Time to finish them up.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Writing a book. What happens if the worst...
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