As I like to report on both positive and negative feedback, I thought I'd post the following message I got, explaining why one reader decided she was no longer going to continue reading the story.
This is the kind of feedback most authors would kill to get from readers, since the fear is that most readers will simply abandon a story they no longer like, as opposed to telling you what the problems are. So, here's the feedback, followed by my response to it. Note, though, that these are both quite lengthy.
Alas, I am sorry to say that I don't think I will be continuiong to
read your story. I began reading the first book with some trepidation.
The codes mF and harem originally turned me off. But after I started
it I was intrigued with the way you presented the characters and the
plot. Mom and dad seem to be pretty "hip" if you will, and the kind of
parents that encouraged their children to expand their horizons. Cate
was an intelligent forceful kind of girl who knew what she wanted and
wasn't afraid to go after it. she could lead her brother around
because she knew he loved her and would do anything for her. There was
no hesitation in any of her actions.
The second book seems to me to have fallen apart. Now I know I am NOT
a writer, and I have no idea how hard it is to put pen to paper and
create a story. I am however an avid reader, and I know a good story
when I read it. If I wasn't reading your blog along with the story to
understand your thought process behind the story, I don't think I would
have read as much as I have.
Cate seems to have been pushed to the back of the story. I can
understand that she may not be intigral to Alex's development right
now, but to me it seems that she has lost that confident air she had in
the first book. She seems to be more submissive in the second book.
In the first book dad was active in giving Alex advice and helping
him out with what was going on, as a father should. As the only two
males in the house, I would think there would be more father and son
interaction. As a father I can fully understand his objection to the
relationship developing between Cate and Alex, but he is whinning to
mom and not really discussing it with Alex or Cate. I am kind of
getting the opinion that he may be jelous of Alex hence the (in my
mind) snide remark in this chapter '"Don't do anything that we wouldn't
do, but then we can't do anything that you can do anyway, so take that
into consideration," [Alex's] father said, merely tipping his hat to me.'
Another thing I have noticed is that all of your characters have the
same speach pattern. There is no diversity, no ethnic flair to the
different races. Granted Ahn is speaking through an interpreter but to
not have the occasional direct translation instead rephraseing what
the speaker said into proper English structure is hard to do even for
Professional interpreters. This also leads to my impression that
Alex's ability to translate different languages is selective since he
didn't know "Mon petit ami", was french for sure and what it meant.
As far as the sex scenes I won't really comment on that since I am an
avid reader on SOL, I tend to gloss over most of the sex in the stories
I read. It's like watching a porn marathon. Once past the initial
excitement, it gets repititious and boring. I will say that it would be
hard for me at least to time my climax with one other person let alone
two other people. But that's just my thoughts.(I have never claimed to
be a Don Juan)
I hope that you take my comments in the spirit in which they are
intended. The story idea is a good one. I do hope that you continue to
write. I can see that you are passionate about your writing, and I know
that with time you will gain experience and be a truely great writer.
I may come back to finish reading this book sometime in the future, but
right now I've lost interest. Sorry. Good luck in your endeavors!!
Well, I'm sorry to hear that. But I find your detailed
explanation quite insightful, so I thank you for that.
As far as your complaints go, I'll admit that many of them lye with
the direction that Book 2 has taken. I suspect you'll enjoy Book 3
(when it finally gets written) a bit more, since it returns to more of
a Book 1 feel, dropping many of the extraneous characters and plot
complications. I also figure Cate will once more get back into a
leading role. Much of her diminished role in Book 2 was a result of the
big backlash against her in Book 1, and my reaction to it by scaling
her way back. I too liked the original Cate, but I was trying to
understand why everyone else didn't (well, to be honest, there were
several sides to the subject).
As it is now, I'm trying to bring Cate back in a rather round about
way, building her up in others' opinions rather than have her speaking
up for herself.
On the other points, I can only plead mia culpa. As far as Alex not
understanding Anh's French. That was just a bad oversight. One that Proxy
Account pointed out to me (as well as the unlikelihood that she'd be
wearing silver jewelery). The speech patterns is a long term weakness
of mine. When we were young, my family moved around a lot, and my
brother and I took two different tacts to it. I managed to drop all
traces of regional accents from my speech, and concentrated on
speaking the way I thought was clearer. My brother went the other
direction, and he can pick up and imitate a person's accent and
dialect within moments of meeting them. As a result I'm pretty useless
at imitating dialects and speech patterns. It's similar to how I'm
useless at remembering faces. It's a bit of a bad failing for a
As far as Anh not speaking in Vietnamese any more, I'll just point out
the difficulty I recently had in trying to get Ai's name to display
properly. I like writing in different languages, but it's VERY hard to
get it to work correctly on a weeky basis. If I ever write a novel
with a big publishing house, I'll broaden my horizons, but I suspect
my inability to remember faces or vary my dialects will prevent that. 'D
Finally, the 'mutual orgasms' isn't meant to be typical porn writing.
Instead it's meant to point out Alex's energy running through those
around him, triggering things that he can't. But I can see how it
would read just like a traditional harem story that I'm trying to poke
fun at. That's always been the failure of irony, isn't it. The very
people you attempt to poke fun at end up enjoying it just as much as
everyone else. The failure of "All In The Family" was that middle
class racists thought it was just as funny as upper class
That all said, I can warn you that Book 2 won't get much better. It
keeps along this line for a while, with variations on the themes
already established. While Book 3 will build on what happens in Book
2, it won't depend on your having read the previous books as much as
this book did (mainly because of the lessor roles of supporting cast).