Cliffhangers, reviews and contests.

work-hard-and-stay-humble-4This week I’ve been thinking a lot about reviews. Well, I’ve been thinking a lot that I will never do another trilogy again because of the stress and pressure of them. I have a feeling that it’s a lot like childbirth. In the heat of the moment, women swear they are never doing this again. Then, two years later, they do. So who knows. Trilogies are hard, (mentally) not for the lack of material-in fact, it opens up storylines I normally couldn’t use. But because the end of the road seems so far away. I am impatient. I want it done and I want it done now. In fact, I am quite frustrated with myself that I cannot write a (normal length) book in a week. In my not so rational mind, this is something I should be able to do, if I have the scene breakdown and work 12 hours a day, and I am not happy that I have not done it yet. One day, I will. Just to prove to myself that I can. But back to the reason for this post.
Cliffhangers. I love cliffhangers. I love to read them and to write them. I understand that this is frustrating to some readers, (mostly in a good way) but I wanted to clear the air about something that Lisa alerted me to a few months ago. And I can’t go any further about cliffhangers until I talk about reviews. I don’t read reviews. I read the first 52 that I received on 1929 and I haven’t gone back since to read any reviews on any books I’ve written. It’s an emotional roller coaster and I decided my life was better off not reading them. The good ones will have me floating for days, the bad ones can keep me from concentrating for days. I have felt great since I stopped. However, I believe that some good information can be gleaned from reviews. Lisa and I are behind the curtain in a Wizard of Oz kind of way. We see how it all connects, plays out and see all the way to the end of the series. One of my biggest fears is that something won’t make sense to a reader because I didn’t provide enough back story or insight, taking for granted that I see it all in my own head. So, Lisa monitors the reviews to check for things like that. (So far, so good) She passes on any important information to me. One issue has been the cliffhanger. I have received email about this as well. A few people have said that 1929 ended on a cliffhanger just to ‘hook’ readers into buying the next and the next. That really irritates me. I write cliffhangers because I love them and it’s part of the whole trilogy experience. And, I have said in several places, several times, that if anyone cannot afford to purchase a book I will happily email them an epub for their device, for free. In all, I have given away almost 50K copies of my books. For the few that have alluded to the fact that I write the way I do to hook readers and make money, I honestly think a chinese factory worker makes more than me when it comes down to the man-hours involved with this job that I love. I don’t write primarily for profit. I write for Lisa and I. I don’t subscribe to the advice “write for your readers”, either. I love my readers and I am so thankful for each one of them. But I have to stay true to the book and what it wants to do. Not what’s popular or will sell a bunch. So, with that off my chest, I can go on to the last thing. Contests and awards. I have been asked what contests, awards, etc, I have won. The answer to that is, none. I don’t enter my work into contests. I never have. There are several reasons I don’t. Time, energy and money are big ones. Entering contests take all of those. Second, I have read some craptacular books that boast this award and that, and it has taken away from the value of it. I don’t like the idea of submitting my work and waiting with wringing hands and bated breath to be told I’m ‘good enough’ by a panel of complete strangers. I get my validation from other means. I get it from the only thing that matters. My readers. Emails, comments, fb posts…that’s all I need to validate my work. In my mind, reviews and awards boost the ego and make one feel self-important. Direct contact with readers keeps you humble and thankful. I prefer the latter.

One thought on “Cliffhangers, reviews and contests.

  1. I am a new M.L. Gardner reader. Love your style, imagination and the trilogy story line. Every time I read a Charles Martin book, I wait with anticipation for the next one. “Unwritten” came out a couple of weeks ago; and I quickly downloaded it. I’d watched for it for over a year. Yet, I just HAD to finish reading 1930 first. I downloaded 1930 the day after I finished 1929. This is how much I love your story: I postponed Martin’s new novel until last night, when I read the last page of #2 in your trilogy. Please know that your cliffhanger has me not-so-patiently waiting. Please, oh please, don’t let it be another year! Seriously, you’re a very gifted writer. Just as I’ve read everything Charles Martin has had published, I will be familiar with all your work made known to your readers. Thanks for sharing your marvelous talent.

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