If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our March author interviews: 3/7--Karen Cantwell, 3/14--Shawn Reilly, 3/21--Annette Dashofy, and 3/28--WWK Blogger Debra Sennefelder (on her debut novel!). Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our March Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 3/3-Heather Weidner, 3/10-Holly Chaille, 3/17-Margaret S. Hamilton, 3/24-Kait Carson, 3/31-Charles Saltzberg.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here: https://www.amazon.com/Necessary-Ends-Tai-Randolph-Book-ebook/dp/B079MS67CM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520014972&sr=8-2&keywords=Tina+Whittle

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018 at: https://www.amazon.com/Empty-Promises-Seamus-McCree-Book-ebook/dp/B078XJRYDG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520089649&sr=8-2&keywords=James+M.+Jackson&dpID=51kcxPsst-L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here: https://mammothpublications.net/writers-m-to-z/rodriguez-linda-dark-sister/

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

“You Can’t Do That!”

Those words should have been the first hint that the ending of my WIP Cabin Fever: A Seamus McCree Novel was not working for all of my readers. One of my beta readers, who was visiting and read the book downstairs while I was working upstairs, uttered those words as she finished Cabin Fever. My reaction to her outburst was “Good, the surprise ending worked!”
That deceptive belief held as I got feedback from a couple of other readers who liked the book and made no particular comments about the ending. And then I received a written critique back from a long-term beta reader who I knew to be a fan of my characters. She wrote, “The ending doesn’t work for me. No, it’s stronger than that: I hated the ending.” She went on to explain why.
Quickly on the heels of that red flag another negative reaction to the ending arrived in my inbox. I sent the last few chapters to a former critique partner who had read (well more fairly been subjected to) an early version of the manuscript and asked her specifically about the ending. After reflection she decided she did like it, but her initial reaction had also been unfavorable. I went back and questioned the “You Can’t Do That!” reader to understand what was behind her exclamation and discovered I had fooled myself. It wasn’t just that I had surprised her with the ending; her outburst came because she did not find the ending satisfactory.
One disgruntled reader is worth listening to and then probably ignoring. If two readers say the same thing it is worth exploring. When it reaches three (particularly when it is out of seven) I knew I had a major problem. I had broken the implied promise between writer and reader: if you invest time in my book, I will make it worth your while.
I’ve changed the ending. So far those I have shared it with uniformly like it. I gave the revised manuscript to one final beta reader. She has never read my works so gave it a fresh eye. As this blog was in draft status she sent me her comments and suggestions, none of which related to the ending. I can breathe again.
Next step: polishing the manuscript for submission.
~ Jim


Gloria Alden said...

For myself, I like a surprise ending, one I never guessed, but that being said, even a surprise ending doesn't satisfy me if it totally goes against what I would like to see. I think you were wise to change it.

One of my critique partners recently got an offer from an agent to represent her. Besides some edits, she wanted the ending changed. I know we, her critique partners, weren't satisfied with it, either, but she said the two who had parted at the end would get together again in the next book. Now she's going to change the ending and make it a stand alone book.

Maryann Miller said...

You are so right about heeding a suggestion if it is made by several trusted critique partners or beta readers. Once negative reaction can just be a matter of personal taste, more than that usually means a craft problem.

Warren Bull said...

There is an old saying,"If one person calls you a donkey, laugh. If two people call you a donkey, think about what you're doing. If three people call you a donkey get a saddle."

E. B. Davis said...

I agree that the ending had to be changed, but then I was one of your beta readers. If the book had been one of a trilogy, all of which would be published simultaneously or at least within the same year, you might have been able to get away with the original ending. But, that wasn't the situation. I'm so glad you changed it.

My only hesitation was that the POV changed, and it was the only chapter in that POV (I think?). Adding one more chapter somewhere after the son comes into the story in that POV, no narravtive, but just his take on his father's situation, perhaps even acknowledging the reader would set off that last chapter, and might be an interesting variation to the third person.

It could be interesting especially if any of the books in your series switches to the son as the main character. Will you go back and forth? In the books where the son is the MC, you could have the father's take on the situation his son is in. Just a suggestion, but it could be unique and fun!

Gayle Carline said...

I agree, Jim. If three people are giving you the same comment, you need to listen to what they're saying. I guess if you still disagree with them, arm wrestling is the next step, followed by pistols at dawn.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Gayle, I can't remember who it was, but I'm thinking it was Stonewall Jackson (Civil War general for the south) while he was an instructor at VMI was once was challenged to a duel. Since the one challenged gets to choose the weapons, he picked cannons at ten paces -- which ended the proposed duel!

~ Jim

Anita Page said...

Jim, it sounds as though you made the right decision in changing the ending. You're lucky--as I am--to have first readers you trust and who trust you enough to give honest criticism.