This week's blog challenge prompts participating authors to discuss their irrational fears. Mine are pretty common: spiders, rats, cockroaches, and wasps/hornets. In short, if it's vermin, it makes my skin crawl and I want it and all 17 gazillion of its relatives to die. Now.
That goes for those nasty critters that don't make me freak out, like mosquitoes.
Take me on a trail ride that has me passing through spider webs, and I'll turn into a quivering wreck. Luckily, my horse pays no attention to me when that happens. God forbid a spider--not just its sticky web--should actually land on me. Catastrophe for sure.
Yes, i realize the desire to assuage my irrational fears would decimate several species of animals that depend upon vermin for food. I prefer to ignore that consequence because it will never happen. Strangely enough, snakes don't bother me. When I was 19, I worked in a pet store for a summer and was one of the few employees there who would handle the snakes.
That, of course, brings me to a memory that still makes me smile. A coworker at that pet store grew up in Africa, the son of missionaries. He related an incident when he was fishing out a tarantula for a customer. The tarantula dropped to the floor, and "BUG!" went through my coworker's mind. Without thought, he stomped on it. The customer was displeased: "You just killed my tarantula." "I'll get you another," he replied.
If one determines irrational fears by what populates our nightmares, that gets really personal and more than a little weird. I fear an utter lack of control. One of most disturbing themes in my nightmares is having absolutely no influence, no impact, no effect upon the events around me and affecting me. Since I'm an admitted control freak--is there a support group for that?--the sense of utter helplessness inspires absolute dread and despair.
Another distressing nightmare trend involves former bosses and sometimes former classmates. My subconscious brings up the conflicts and rehashes old pain and humiliation. Nights reliving those mutated memories are never fun.
I generally don't write about my fears in my books because I prefer not to relive them. I'm not all that eager to read about such things in other books, either. What about you?
I was hired to critique the manuscript for a novella. The author requested that, in addition to the usual review, I offer suggestions for improvement. The story spanned romance, mystery, and suspense--right up my alley. To be perfectly honest, it sucked.
So, allow me to explain. The story premise held promise; the poor quality of execution made me cringe. Full of plot holes, discrepancies, improbabilities, and other egregious flaws--which, by the way, I pointed out--the story suffered even more from sloppy writing, incorrect grammar, and other "mechanical" errors in composition and construction. The 9-page critique includes an overall review that covers a little over two pages. The balance of the critique addresses the manuscript chapter by chapter. It's quite thorough, but not complimentary.
Once I finished the review, I rewrote it in an attempt to ensure the objectivity of the comments so that they focused on the manuscript and nothing else. Personal comments regarding the author have no place in a critique. Even though I delivered exactly what was requested and promised and I delivered the review days ahead of schedule, the client took offense and left a negative review of my service.
The comments she left show that the client wanted a cheerleader who perhaps pointed out a few minor glitches within the manuscript that could be easily remedied. Unfortunately, that's not what she got. She received a candid opinion from a professional writer and editor.
The gist of this debacle of a project is this: if you ask for something, then don't complain when what you get isn't what you expected. Editors and critical reviewers are not an author's friends or cheerleaders, but their critical feedback will help a writer to improve his or her craft. As a writer, I welcome criticism, because I learn from it. It helps me improve.
Sure, negative reviews sting. After licking my wounds, I go back to the criticism and my work to see the flaws and then try to correct them. That, I believe, is the mark of a professional: someone who can accept the pain and work through it to produce a better product.
Any writer who hires me to review and/or edit his or her content will receive candor and thorough attention to detail. You'll get exactly what I promise. I won't be your cheerleader. I will point out every flaw I detect so that you, the author, can take remedial action and improve the content.
After all, isn't it better for one person to point out the problems with a story than to upload it for public viewing only to garner a host of negative reviews from that public?
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He poured them both glasses of water and took a seat across from her. “Ask your questions. I shall not lie to you.”
Myriad questions raced through Corinne’s mind, but she voiced on the one of utmost importance: “Do I have a choice?”
“For as long as I can give it to you,” came the evasive answer.
“What does that mean, Uberon? Either I have a choice or I don’t.”
He met her gaze without flinching. “Free will is sacred to me.”
She nodded, understanding from what he did not say that free will was about the only thing that he held sacred. “But?”
“But there are … compulsions … that even I cannot resist indefinitely.”
“I lost my son because I allowed him to act of his own free will. I split the fae realm because I refused to coerce my own people.”
“Why would that split your realm?”
“Law and its enforcement has limits if it is not to become tyranny: national defense and protection of property.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I gave my people leave to make their own choices, to govern themselves, except for violation of one another’s property and to protect their country. They often made poor choices, and those choices brought darkness and hardship to them. That is one reason why my realm became known as the Unseelie Court.”
“What has that to do with me? Us?”
“Mogren, king of the Seelie Court, currently works to reunite the Unseelie Court with the Seelie. We shall once again be one nation, one race, one people.”
“And I shall have no place there. But I cannot linger here for long, nor do I wish to do so. This realm is … tainted.” He picked up his fork and gestured to her. “Eat. You are weary and need to rebuild your energy.”
Corinne wished she could argue. With a small sigh, she stabbed a piece of sausage and brought it to her mouth. She chewed, swallowed, and said, “I still don’t see what that has to do with me or us.”
“Your denial will … pressure me until I must succumb.” He blinked. Corinne could have sworn his eyes flashed red. “If that happens, the aftermath will not be pretty.”