So, my mom is not your typical your-work-is-wonderful-dear kind of reader, which I’m happy about. I made the mistake of having her read a first draft, though, of an earlier work, and boy was that rough. It was good, but rough. Rough in the sense of seeing LOL written in the margins when it’s not supposed to be funny kind of rough. That manuscript is still sitting under the bed. But it means I always know where I stand, which I totally appreciate as not everyone is that honest.
So, with this new novel I waited until I was almost done with my third draft before I let her see it. And then I held my breath. Soon, I started getting text messages and emails keeping me apprised of where she was and how much she was enjoying it, and I’m thinking, is this my mom? Especially because she’s never read a Romance novel.
The positive feedback kept coming. Tuesday, 5:07 p.m.
getting ready to start chapter 18 tonight….and have to tell you that i just ran out and bought some dark chocolate….
(The dark chocolate is something that’s part of the story so it’s not the non sequitur it seems). Yesterday at 6:30 a.m.
hey, got up to chapter 25 last night! almost finished!
Until last night. Then I got bombarded with text messages and emails letting me have it. She’s mad at me, folks! Here’s just some of what she sent:
Don’t have your correct email here so don’t know if u will get this. Finished the book and feel cheated.
Sent from my iPod
That was the entirety of the email. And then at the tail end of a follow up one, where she discusses what she didn’t like, was this:
i don’t know but but but
And here’s a text message:
what the hell! What about Phineas? What was all that stuff about?
So, I called her on the way into work to get more details, because this is like gold to me. She’s only the second person to read it all the way through in this form. She was so worked up about what I’d done to the poor hero and what I hadn’t covered, that at one point I actually had to say, “Mom, calm down.” She laughed and stated that, yes, her blood pressure was up. She was that incensed.
My ending sucks. I was worried it did and was also worried I’d rushed it, and not delved enough into the HEA moment. The first reader gave me that feedback. And now my mom with this reaction…
So, why am I happy? Well, because she’d had such an animated and emotional reaction to it, even though it was negative. She’s an artist, and she’d always told me growing up that a negative reaction was just as good as a positive one — that at least there was a reaction. In this case, at least she hadn’t shrugged her shoulders and gone, ‘meh.’
To me, it meant that she’d gotten so wrapped up in the characters and the story that she was pissed I didn’t end it in a satisfying way. Yes, it means my ending sucks and I need to rework it. And I will need to revise some earlier chapters. There’s a lot of work still ahead of me. But to my mind, her reaction meant I’d at least done one thing right that I didn’t need to scrap and rework, and that’s the connection she felt to my hero and that I’d pulled her enough into the story world for her to feel this strongly about a poorly executed ending.
At least, that’s my story and my interpretation of this morning’s call and I’m sticking to it.