This isn’t a Stephen Hawkings treatise on the meaning of humanity circa 10,000 BCE to 2020 CE. Not even close.
It is, in fact, a smidge of navel gazing with respect to the release of A Touch of Lightning and An Ocean of Light.
Little known bits:
It took me 10 days to write Lightning. At the time, I was unemployed, and the ideas were so vivid and fresh in my mind that I couldn’t stop typing. With few other distractions, I was amazed that I jotted down approximately 99k words that later became 110k words on my umpteenth pass trying (badly) to weed out my mistakes.
Ocean took me longer. I got stuck on the ending. Everything was leading up to the big showdown that tends to happen in Fantasy novels of any kind–and I almost chickened out on it, opting to put 1/3rd of the battle in a brief description while expanding on the remaining 2/3rds. A fellow author pointed out that he felt dropped halfway into a moment that went too quickly and required a bit more detail–so I went back over it.
At the time, Lightning had made its way to the virtual shelves at Amazon-Kindle. It had a fine start, and I was pleasantly surprised to see 309+ (free) units go to new homes in an initial promotion. But then I realized if I had let that promo go for 3 days like I’d intended, I’d literally have nothing to sell, since basically everyone would already have it for free.
So then I was content to let people borrow it from Kindle Unlimited. At least I could score a pittance from the pages read.
Issues came to the surface in Lightning after a few readers reviewed it. They noted many egregious errors on my part. Some critics were polite. Others, decidedly not so much. They went heavy on the smarmy, smug, sarcastic, scathing route, proud that they had excoriated me so roundly with their advanced vocabulary and their pith and pilgarlic japes and jabs, absolutely unapologetic of their own voluminous vitriol spilling off their fingers.
I had to take a big breath on that one and remember not to engage. In fact, when the critic replied to my correcting him on my gender (I mean, if you read to the end, you see “he” and “his” all over the place, but I wasn’t worth reading up on since I wasn’t a human being deserving of decency if not kindness), he said, “I stand corrected. Otherwise, I don’t have cause to retract one word from what I wrote.”
To that, I replied. “Thanks. Good for you.” Nothing else.
Best not to feed the trolls, after all.
As it turned out, after having read a few of his reviews for other books, I guess I should count myself lucky he rated me with three stars. He was far more caustic and withering to them.
To that end, he mentioned he’d hope my next work wasn’t more of the same, else he wouldn’t feel bad at all for “skewering” me.
I think he missed the references to empathy that I’d littered my first book with.
I had to laugh that he ended it with a Latin phrase, as if to elevate his rubbish review further. “To err is human, but to persist is evil/diabolic” or somesuch banal freshman-college level essay crap.
I went after as many of the same kind of issues in my second novel, though some other mistakes popped up in their place. But again, the reviews were incredibly positive, which must have meant I got more things right than before, n’est pas?
Book 3 was teased at the end of Ocean. It is decidedly sadder, or at least, it starts under a cloud. I’m trying to take the edge off of the grief with other things, as one would do, lest they thought I was attempting a M/M version of a Sylvia Plath novel that would make them want to put their heads in the oven. That would be the last thing I’d want. The men in this family I’ve written deserve better.
Regarding HEAs vs. HFNs, I’ve opted for one monstrous story, as opposed to several standalones. I get it. People like tidy endings. But with tidy endings come those resolutions that say, “Okay. I can put the book down now.”
And then they do so.
I’m hoping for a panicked or concerned, “Okay, I can put the book down–but what the heck is going to happen next?” I’m aiming at making each character as human as possible, because it’s humanity that I find many readers attracted to. I have only but to read books from a few of my favorite authors in the M/M Romance genre–Lucy Lennox, Sloane Kennedy, Eli Easton, T.J. Klune, N.R. Walker, and many, many more–to see that when they focus on hearts over hot stuff, their readers faithfully stick to them. That’s not to say it’s all “hearts” vs “hot stuff”, because all of those writers are more than capable of writing sexy stuff from the TOC to the Copyright Page at the end of the novel. But there is an understanding they’ve tapped that I hope to achieve as well.
Book 3 had already been written. In truth, I got the ideas for it as I was writing Ocean, and it became my 2018 NaNoWriMo project. I finished it before I even finished Book 2. But now, armed with the insights of my critics kind and/or curmudgeonly, I’m definitely re-tooling a few areas.
I hope to release it before or on the New Year. Keep a weather eye!