When I published Pawn of Innocence, I'd be the first to admit it was flawed. But, as one who had read it over at least 100 times or more, I literally was unable to see the trees for the forest (no, not the forest for the trees). I had no idea what beta readers were, and the closest I came was having a friend of mine read it. She loved it and said it was great. *sigh*
Ok, that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I already knew that. So, off I went in search of a way to get others to read it and let me know where it was lacking. I knew it had to be, I was simply no longer able to see it myself. I joined Goodreads, and was quite excited to get into the group that swapped ebooks for review. Now you're talking!
As it turned out I got 2 offers. One was not a good experience, the other was very good. I bowed out of further participation, and began looking to Facebook. It was there I found what I really needed. I joined a group called Book Review Depot. I don't mind saying I was a little overwhelmed at first, as I read past posts from the people. Boy, these guys are seasoned pros, I told myself, they really know what they're talking about.
Determined to learn what I could before they found me out to be someone pretending to be an author and booted me, I sat quietly in the corner and watched, soaking up all the advice and info I could. I read the three books I was required to, and was not surprised to find that they were really good stories. What I was surprised to find was that they had some flaws, too, and I realized that maybe they weren't so different from me, after all.
I read some more, and started getting in on the conversations. They made it easy to fit in, and seemed to take to me easily enough despite my often sarcastic humor and brash words. I felt loved.
Then the day came, my book was now on the Active List. For the briefest moment I fretted. What if it wasn't as good as some had told me? What if it was... fill in the blanks, most of it crossed my mind. I stopped that thinking soon enough. I knew it was a good story, what I was actually worried about was the punctuation, grammar, formatting, etc. That, I wasn't completely sure about.
To my dismay, I was getting other reviews in that just loved the story, but had nothing to say about the flaws. Then, finally, the real critical reviews started coming in. If you are familiar with my writings at all, you know by now how rabid I am about honest reviews. The good, the bad, and the truly brutal. They are all priceless.
However, and the whole reason for this blog, I also began getting advice like "that sentence there should read like...". I'll take a hit for bad grammar, to an extent, bad punctuation (my downfall), and sloppy formatting, what I won't take is someone telling me how my characters should talk. Nor how I should word a sentence. I'm no English major, and I'm fairly certain most of my readers won't be either, so, if you want stiff, stilted writing, my books are not for you.
I'm not going to use words you have to keep using your dictionary to look up, or fancy crafted phrases that make you suddenly feel out of place. I live in the real world, and in my world, people don't talk like that. Love it or leave it, but I will do it my way.