Characters are only human…

One possible visualization of Walt and Danielle

The characters in our books may not actually be human, but the goal is to make the reader believe they are. That being said, I always find it amusing when a review has an issue with something one of the characters says or does. 

In my opinion, a reviewer has the right to take issue with any book—providing the issue exists. For example, I had a reviewer once slam one of my books because of all the things I pushed about Mormons in the story. There was NO mention of Mormons in that book.

When it comes to critiquing characters, it makes sense for a reviewer to note when a character says or does something completely foreign to the character the author has created—without any feasible explanation. For example, if Danielle shot and killed Lily in the first chapter of book 30, my readers would assume it must be some nightmare scene, or that wasn’t really Lily or Danielle. But if by the end of the book the readers realize it was in fact Lily and Danielle, and Danielle decided to kill Lily because Lily said something annoying, that would not only alienate readers, it would justifiably bring on the one-star reviews.

But aside from a character behaving out of character—I always shake my head when I get a negative review where the reviewer says something like, “The author said Portland was the capital of Oregon. Can’t the author use Google?” (This is purely an example, and not something from one of my books.)

My question to the reviewer, “Did the ‘author’ say that, or did a character?”  Nothing a fictional character says in a book should ever be taken as ‘fact’. After all, a character is only human, right? And humans make mistakes all the time.

The same is true for grammar issues. When a reviewer leaves comments about the poor grammar in the book, sometimes they are talking about the grammar in the dialogue, which is not a legitimate issue. Unless the character was an educated person and unlikely to speak in that manner.

I had one writer friend who had an English teacher edit his first books. It didn’t work out, because she was always trying to clean up the dialog and remove contractions. Her version was not how people really talk.

As for the grammar comments in reviews–as a reader of reviews, you need to take those with a hefty grain of salt and weigh the other reviews. If an overwhelming number of reviewers slam the grammar in a book, the author may have a problem. Yet if it is only a couple, maybe not. There have been times someone has pointed out a ‘mistake’ to me, only to discover they were wrong. (This was after I double checked with several professional editors.)

When reading a book, readers often get frustrated at how the characters behave and then slam the book in a review. They sometimes slam the author if a character behaves inappropriately, which I find amusing.

If a character in a book is a flaming misogynist, it doesn’t necessarily mean the author condones that behavior. After all, many of my characters murder people, and I don’t condone murder.

Personally, I strive to craft three-dimensional characters, those who have both negative and positive traits—like real people. I also believe a character should be realistically shaped by his or her past.

I remember a couple of reviews that slammed Walt; they felt he was creepy and too forward with Danielle. They failed to consider he was a man of his era. While it is nice to aspire to raising our current sons to treat women as equals and to respect boundaries, it’s not realistic to imagine a man from the 1920s suddenly appearing and immediately behaving according to today’s standards—or the standards we aspire to.

The Exciting Life of a USA Today Bestselling Author

Today the 30th book in my Haunting Danielle series, The Ghost and the Medium, went live. It’s currently available in eBook, paperback, and coming out in audiobook format. I don’t know the date of the audiobook release yet.

I often wonder what other authors do when they have a new book come out. Do they throw a gala party? Open bottles of champagne? Go out to dinner? What?

While wondering what they do on such an auspicious day—I’ll share what I did today.

Let’s see…I started the day by helping my mother take a bath, gave her coffee and breakfast. I cleaned the house (with hubby’s help), sorted laundry, washed clothes, baked four loaves of bread, changed the sheets (with hubby’s help)… gave Mom lunch…

Yep, exciting day! Yet, one nice thing about a small house, it’s just 2 pm and most of it is clean. The only room we didn’t touch was Mom’s, and I plan to do that tomorrow morning.

If I was still living in Lake Havasu City, tonight I would be giving a speech at the high school graduation, where I will be receiving one of this year’s distinguished alumni awards, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

But I’m in Oregon now, and it was not possible to travel to Havasu with my other commitments. So, who will be reading my speech?

I understand it will be Pat Rooney. Pat was my Civics teacher during my senior year of high school. Back then he was an enthusiastic young former Marine, starting his teaching and coaching career at my high school and would later become its principal. I ran into Pat again years later, after I moved back to Havasu with my husband and kids. Don and I were real estate agents with McCulloch Realty when Pat retired from the school district and started a new career in real estate, also with McCulloch Realty.

So tonight, Pat will be reading my speech in Arizona, while I’ll be quietly celebrating the release of The Ghost and the Medium in Oregon. There won’t be any champagne, but Don will be grilling burgers, and I suppose I could have a martini. Hmm… I think there are some olives in the fridge…

Nahh, I’ll probably skip the martini.

(Photo: Yep, that’s me in my stylish shoes and pajama pants.)

Coming soon: The Ghost and the Medium, Book 30

It’s almost here! The Ghost and the Medium’s eBook goes live on Thursday, May 19, 2022. You can pre-order the eBook now, and it should be on your eBook reader when you get up that morning! Click here to find links to the vendors.

If you prefer paperbacks, you can order the regular paperback or the large print paperback at Amazon. And it might actually get to you before May 19!

Readers have been asking about the audiobook version; unfortunately I don’t have a date yet for that release. But when I know, I’ll let you know.

So, what’s next in the Haunting Danielle series? Look for Book 31, The Ghost and the New Neighbor, which is scheduled to come out in eBook format on my birthday—November 22, 2022. If you want to pre-order, click here to find a vendor currently offering pre-orders.

Hope you enjoy the new book!