This morning I woke up to see who won the BSC Tournament as it was scheduled to end at 8pm last night, only to find people still posting this morning. Unsure what to make of that I went on with my morning ritual of checking mail, blogs and Google alerts. And what to my wondering eyes should I find? A notice that looked to be a review on The Crown Conspiracy by someone or some site listed as Ink and Quill.
There was a time when my heart stopped whenever I ran across a review of my books, but that was hundreds of reviews ago. In many ways, reviews are like diseases that you need to build up an immunity to. The first time you encounter one--a real one, not your mother or girl-friend's opinion--you can either be devastated for weeks or left walking on air. My very first review by a total stranger who was not afraid of insulting me, trashed my book. In retrospect, he didn't, but it certainly felt that way. He was an aspiring writer, and they can be the harshest critics. It was the week The Crown Conspiracy was released, and because this was the only review I had, I assumed everyone would agree. I was demoralized, thoroughly miserable, and wondering if there was a way to recall the books. Then other reviews surfaced, glowing, spirited endorsements of my genius and I felt a bit better. It actually took several positive reviews to offset the one negative impact. But once there was sufficient padding there, once enough authoritative rulings were passed in my favor, I stopped being terrified. Even if one person said it was crap, I knew many more who thought otherwise and this provided me with the immunization to the shocks of opinion.
When I saw the link to this review on Ink and Quill, I was not terribly concerned. After all, Crown has been out for well over a year, and in my publishing schedule that’s a lifetime ago. If it had been a review of Emerald Storm I would have been eager to see what the verdict was. Instead, I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee while the screen refreshed. When I returned I was stunned.
This was no ordinary review.
Most of the time, someone with a personal blog reads my book and writes a few paragraphs on it. By now they are pretty much the same paragraphs. Occasionally, and this has been happening more and more recently, a bigger blogger, or online magazine does a piece on one of my books. Still, it is usually just a few paragraphs running over familiar ground—the same likes, the same criticisms. But what I was looking at while holding my now forgotten cup of coffee was not a blog. It was not an article. I was staring at a podcast—an hour-long podcast all about The Crown Conspiracy.
I punched the play button with my mouse and listened. All of a sudden the old fear returned. This was a new virus. I didn’t have much resistance built up against “hearing” strangers discuss my book. I’ve attended book groups, but that is very different. Few people have the courage to eviscerate an author to his face. So I sat back, cup in hand and listened nervously, feeling much as if I was eavesdropping on the wonderful woman I dated the night before as she discussed me to her girl-friend. I wasn’t at all certain I wanted to hear this.
To find out how this story ends click here and listen to the podcast discussion of The Crown Conspiracy by Ink and Quill. For those of you who have not read the book the first portion, prior to the commercials, is without spoilers, but the latter two-thirds after the commercials digs into the story in detail and should be avoided until you’ve read the novel.