Just last week, I claimed I wouldn't be talking anymore about the new Markhat book, Way Out West.
Turns out I lied. That happens a lot -- but Big Al's Books and Pals, the renowned indie book review site, featured Way Out West last week, and I just can't let that pass unannounced.
(To read this in the large print edition, click here).
You can read the full review by clicking below:
Did they like the book?
That's always the first question that springs to mind when I get notice of a book review. Here's the book you spent months slaving over, sweating blood over, pouring your heart and soul into -- and now it's out there, all alone in the wild, facing its audience for the first time.
It's a scary moment. No two people are going to come away from a book with the same experience. I know of books that are beloved by people -- smart people, people with taste and discernment -- that left me scratching my head and wondering what all the fuss was about. There are even highly-touted books that I read and loathed. Which isn't to say they're bad books, by any means. They just weren't right for me.
So what if my book wasn't right for that particular reviewer? What if they read it, and hated it with the burning fury of ten thousand bright young suns? What if they publicly declare their hatred for the book to an audience of hundreds, or thousands? What if I've crawled so far under this heavy sofa out of sheer terror that I can't get free and my corpse is found years later, much to the amusement of the readership of Fark?
Two things happened, concerning the review in Big Al's. First, they liked the book. And second, I was able to squirm free of the sofa after a forty-five minute struggle.
So it is with an immense sense of relief and no small level of back pain that I can post an excerpt from the review.
"It’s a wild ride of murder, intrigue, and time warps. New characters who play important parts are written with depth and style. Darla is sharp and takes on an impressive role as Markhat realizes he married up in class.
There are delightful surprises among the darkness of this tale and more twists in the plot than any roller-coaster ever invented."
Now that's the kind of review that I live for. Because it means that maybe, just maybe, the book worked.
Novels are a lot like engines made out of words and pauses and pacing. Mostly words. You try and put the right words in the right places, in the hope that the whole of them will take on a life of their own. You hope that the reader sits down and turns the ignition with the first dozen words, and that the book cranks right up and takes the reader on a ride they won't soon forget.
That's the fear of every writer when a review comes up. The fear that somewhere along the road from Chapter One to The End, the engine just sputters and dies, or veers into the dread ditch of boredom. When that happens, it's trip over, and another book is always ready to pick up the stranded and offer them a ride.
But that's the nature of the beast. You do your best and then sit back and hope for the best.While you work on yet another little engine that might.
I am especially glad that the reviewer picked up on Darla's growth too. I've got big plans for her, and she is rising easily to the demand. So much so that The Darla Diaries may start appearing sometime next year.
So that's one important review I can file under 'five stars.'
Makes all the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile.
(Top image courtesy of © 3dalia | Dreamstime.com)