I once did an earlier blog post called “The Twilight Zone of Reviews.” I tend to lean toward that old television classic because one of my first reviews referred to me as “Sinclair Lewis meets Rod Serling on Main St.”
I tend to agree with that assessment. However, now I’m in the Twilight Zone of reviews again, because I just can’t figure out why different groups tend to see my work in totally different ways.
I don’t blow a proverbial gasket over a review that has an unfounded criticism. Why? Because I know that the reader/reviewer missed the cues.
In my first short collection Ragged Souls, there’s a story called “Martha’s Kitchen.” When I first wrote that piece it was a big hit among my fellow scribes in the San Antonio Writer’s Guild. They loved it and laughed at the right moments. They even pushed me into reading it during one of their “open-mic” nights.
Therefore, when it was published on Amazon and I received my first reviews, I was eagerly awaiting to see how readers would react to the story. Unfortunately most of the reviewers just “liked” it instead of “loving” it.
Of course, this came as a bit of a shock to me. They didn’t load on a huge pile of praise for the story and they also criticized it because they saw it as a “horror vignette” rather than a story.
Color me surprised!
I intended “Martha’s Kitchen” to read like a wry dark-humored Twilight Zone episode. The difference between the Amazon reviewers and my writers group gave cause for me to scratch my head and try to figure this one out.
After pondering for a long while, the light bulb turned on and I think I had the answer. The story is sown with many subtle seeds. For some, it may take a second reading to turn those seeds into humor. That was the difference, my fellow San Antonio authors had read or heard it a few times.
Those same on-line reviewers also lumped on accolades for the lead story in the collection, “A Purveyor of Odd Things.”
Phew! In my mind, that lead story was the cleverest piece I have ever written. So what’s the problem? Well…my writing buddies from San Antonio received that story with a rather “ho-hum” demeanor. I haven’t figured this one out yet, but I’ll try.