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Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Perception

I was fortunate enough to obtain some more reviews for my first book recently.  If you’ve been following my blog, you know that quite some time ago, I went on a blog tour for this book and was expecting to get a fair amount of reviews as a result.  Up until now, it’s been a frustrating process for me as I’d only gotten one (albeit a very positive) review out of the deal.  Well, it appears that they are now starting to trickle in.

Contrary to what some authors suggest, I have so far read each and every review for my book(s).  There’s only one so far for Book Two, and it’s hidden away on B&N but still much appreciated.  Though I proclaim that I want people to talk about my books and what works and doesn’t work for them, I’ll admit that I still get this nervous feeling when I dive into the cold harsh reality of someone else’s honest opinion.   But with that nervousness also comes excitement that people are giving me feedback.  This is, after all, what I want.  I want people to talk about my books.  I want people to admit that they have read them.

Full disclosure here; I’m not trying to be one of those authors who get nasty and refute everything that might be considered negative about someone’s criticism.  None of the reviews that I’ve gotten so far have been bad.  And I agree with most of their points.  I’d be the first to tell you that though I think Book One is good, it’s not the best thing I’m ever going to put out.  By nature of the beast, it shouldn’t be.   It was written over a year ago.  Since then I have grown so much as a writer and a blogger and have several hundred thousand more words under my belt. Personally, I think that Book Two is a stronger effort.  I’ve heard the same from my beta readers.

So, getting past the technical aspects of the writing itself, what strikes me as interesting is the difference in perception of the story between myself as an author and a reviewer as a reader.  Obviously, I have the upper hand here.  From early on, this was designed as a series, so I know where I’m headed in terms of character development and plot progression.  By only seeing one piece of the puzzle, readers of the first book can only draw conclusions based on what they’ve been given.

One of the most prolific comments is that my romantic hero seems almost too perfect.  Just scratching the surface of that thought is amusing to me, considering that he has a criminal record and has been disowned by his parents.  Offhand, that doesn’t sound like too perfect.  But I can see where this type of thinking comes from, given that he spends the majority of the first book being exactly the type of guy you’d want to date.

But in proclaiming him super boyfriend material, you have to look at the source of the description.  My main character – the narrator of the story – is so enamored with him that she paints him in that light.  Conversely, she’s spent years feeling bitterness and resentment toward her current boyfriend, so she portrays him as being horribly flawed.  As smart as she is, this internal struggle causes her to do things that are rather dumb.  Don’t worry; at times, I wanted to scream at her, too.

I wrote it that way for a reason.  To see that people picked up on it is either a testament to the fact that I did it correctly or that I backed into it completely on accident.  Because this isn’t a one and done, things are going to change during the course of the series.  I’d get it if this was a complete story in and of itself and people felt somehow slighted at my characterizations.  But bear with me, I know where I’m going here.

In fact, in the last chapter of the book, the narrator comes to the conclusion that she’s been a little biased in her opinions, as seen here:

In my eagerness to fault Eric, had I raised Matthew up on too high of a pedestal?

Well, yes honey, you did.

For example, in Book Two, the romantic hero becomes a little more tarnished.  The main character becomes privy to some additional information that makes him seem less than ultra perfect.  The boyfriend becomes more sympathetic of a character.  We see some of the motives behind his actions and it turns out that he’s no more flawed than anyone else.  The main character still does some stupid stuff.

What I’m actually struggling with now  in writing Book Three is not making the hero of One and Two look like a complete ass, at least in the beginning of the story.  I’ve shifted gears here by changing narrators and the main focus is no longer on his storyline, but rather on his sister’s.  I utilize flashbacks in order to explain some of the missing pieces of her history that were hinted at in One and Two.  She has some interesting things to say.  And though she would walk through fire to  protect her brother, she’s not looking at him through the eyes of an adoring female.  She’s known him all her life, warts and all.

It just goes to show you how two people can look at the very same circumstances and conclude two very different things.  Sounds familiar, right?