Some very nice feedback coming in. I had lunch today with Debi, my first reader who effectively doesn’t know me (she works with my wife and is a voracious reader) and her comments were both very favorable and very sweet. It is always nice when friends like your stuff, but man, this is even better.
Not that she didn’t have any criticism; there were a few areas of the book that dragged a bit for her. And I’m certainly glad to hear those too—some of those confirmed my own suspicions or revealed that a chapter that I already cut down didn’t quite get cut enough.
The best things Debi talked about were things I didn’t ask her specifically about. Especially her attention to character development and the relationships, in particular that of Max and Dane. Also, her understanding of The Game’s real goals and consequences (how much it evolves into a team—rather than simply competitive—thing), and what it all (success, money, The Game itself) really means to Max (and not just Dane). I was so thrilled that all of that comes through, and that it makes people feel.
Some of her comments also struck a chord for me in the whole notion of advertising/marketing for the book, which is of course a lot of my focus just now. Debi said this about the effect of my book on the reader: “I felt bolder in my life while I was reading the book, but it didn’t feel genuine really; it’s been bred into me to follow the rules or else something very bad will happen…which is so boring. So Max and Dane’s lives were exciting and stimulating—They got past something—I don’t know what—past the thing that keeps people down and victimized.”
I loved hearing that. That is exactly why people will enjoy reading this book. To live vicariously through Max and Dane. To experience the danger that we’d all possibly like to experience, but can’t really afford to. She captured that in a few choice words really well, and I’d almost forgotten that thrill myself. As Debi put it: “I’d like to have both Max’s confidence and cahones, and Dane’s vulnerability and openness.” I get so close to the nuts and bolts of it, sometimes I can’t quite see it fresh. But I love confirming that all of that is in there somewhere. And that these characters are real to people reading it.
Anyway, Jance and B.Z. have also given me some wonderful feedback recently. (Apparently the book is funny. Who’da thunk?) But anyway, this was special. My first critique from someone who doesn’t have to like it. I’ve been grins all day.
I’m thinking about opening up my discussion forums on here, so we can all talk about it easily and as deeply as necessary. (Those who’ve finished, anyway.) I think there’s a surprising number of facets to the novel to talk about. Heck, Kirby and I got off on a Shakespeare tangent on the five hour drive home to Big Spring! (“To Take The Pills Or Not To Take The Pills… Is That The Question?”)
Not that I plan on competing with The Bard, mind you, but hey, it’s kinda cool to write something a tad bit “deep” for a change. (And they don’t call him Billy Max for nothing.)