What is in a review? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some will say a review can make or break you. Others will say it really does not matter. I say that it is a little bit of both. Nevertheless, reviews in the end do hold a lot of weight. I never gave that much thought into what goes into a review or how important a review is until I self-published my debut novel Poka City Blues. I have to admit that at first, I was a little weary about how other readers would identify with my book because there were dozens upon dozens of articles about how important it is for a writer / author to have nothing but great reviews. Getting a bad review was like one of the worst things in the world according to a few of those articles and sure enough, I soon started to dread about getting my first “bad” or negative review. That is, until I came to my senses.
I had to convince myself that getting a bad review is not the end of the world. After all, we as a people are different when it comes to our likes and dislikes. What one person may like, the next person may despise, but hey, that is okay. Some of the greatest movies of all time had less than stellar reviews and some of the best books ever written were met with harsh criticism. Besides, a review can be perceived in many different ways depending on how you look at it. There is not one movie ever scripted or one book ever written that has nothing but good reviews. Somewhere amongst those reviews there is one person (or several persons) who did not like it or particularly cared for it. Now, I worry less about getting bad reviews and focus more on writing. Poka City Blues has only been in the book market for four months and I know that soon enough I will get my first “bad” review. When that day comes, I will accept it with grace and move on. In the end, a review is like an opinion; everybody has one. I see no problem in respecting that.
It goes without saying that if you want something really bad you have to go out there and get it. Easier said than done, right? Well, I suppose in some cases. As a writer, I love pushing boundaries when it comes to the books I write because I feel that no story or subject should be off limits. I believe that when a writer tells a story, it should be raw, emotional and vivid. Why? Because there has to be some sort of emotional connection between the reader and the story to really draw them in. I want the reader to feel what the characters in my book are feeling and I want them to be able to visualize and see what each and every character is going through. They may laugh, they may cry, they may get upset, heck, they may even cringe, but that to me is what good storytelling should be. You want a story to be on the mind of a reader long after they read it and you do not want them to stop talking about it, at least that is what I want. My “method” of storytelling may be unconventional to say the least, but I would not want it any other way. Readers who have read my debut novel Poka City Blues have responded quite well to it and I cannot wait to publish my next story or novel. I recently published Poka City Blues on Barnes and Noble Nook and I am looking forward to seeing what Nook readers have to say about my book.
You can’t say that. You can’t write that. Oh, really? Guess what? I did. I do not like constraints and I have never liked for anyone to tell me that I cannot do something or that I am not good enough to do something. If you really want to light my fire or get me going, say one or both of those things to me. I’ll be sure to add you to my “prove you wrong” list. I have never been short when it comes to words and when it comes to my writing, I leave no words to spare. When I write a story that is passionate, near and dear to my heart, I write with everything I have inside of me. I do not wonder whether or not my writing fits into an “acceptable box” because I live and think outside of the box. I will be the first to say and admit that I am an unconventional writer, but it is working out just fine for me. I am slowly but surely reaching readers who appreciate my brutal honesty and my fearless passion for writing. I am a firm believer that with patience comes greatness and I have no qualms when it comes to waiting for mine. So go on, write you feel and don’t let anything hold you back. Not everyone is going to like you as a person and not everyone is going to particular care for your “form” of writing, but why worry yourself over that. You can’t please everybody. With that being said, Write On!!!
I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe most debut authors see their first novel as their pride and joy. Why? Because it is their first finished published work, their first written bundle of joy and for those very reasons they are proud to show it off to the world. Any time any of us accomplish something that we deem as amazing or “grand” we want the whole world to know about it because we are thrilled about it! That is exactly how I feel about my debut novel Poka City Blues, but Poka City Blues is more than just a story to me. It is in some ways very personal to me and for that very reason I experienced a lot of pain and heartache as I was writing this story. Some of the things experienced by Sedelia, the main character in Poka City Blues, were some of the things my mother experienced and it brought back tearful memories, mental anguish and at times a little anger. People who know me on a personal level know that my mother is my biggest inspiration and one of the main sources of my motivation.
The soul of a writer can be deep, especially when their story stems from something personal and the emotions poured out into their story or stories can come across very raw. My mother has always told me that profound strength arises out of a great struggle, and I believe that saying to be very true. When you struggle and work hard, you build up endurance and the stronger you are as a person, the more capable you are at handling disappointments and adversities. That is what Poka City Blues is all about; standing tall in the face of trials while still being able to smile in the face of trials.
Once readers begin reading Poka City Blues, they may feel tempted to feel sorry for the main character Sedelia as she recounts her days of growing up in Poka City. As Sedelia describes her hardships and struggles in graphic detail, it is kind of hard not to feel sorry for her or even pity her; however, that is not how Sedelia wants her readers to see her. Rather than feel sorry for her, Sedelia wants her readers to be empowered by her strength, determination and resilience despite being slapped in the face time and time again with setbacks and heartache. There is a saying that struggle has a way of making us stronger, and that is certainly the case with Sedelia.
I have had quite a few readers tell me that they were broken up by Sedelia’s story and at times became a little angry which is understandable considering what all she has been through, but instead of feeling sorry for her, I want readers to be inspired by her. Why? Because this is a woman who was able to smile in the face of severe trials while never losing hope or sight of who she is. Sedelia is far from a victim; she is indeed one heck of a heroine.
I decided to write Poka City Blues for several reasons
1) I wanted to write a story that was unlike any other story that has ever been written or read. There are some things written in Poka City Blues that are so upfront and direct, it may cause some readers to be taken aback. It was not my intention to write a cookie cutter story. These are things that have taken place in my life and that of my family so I want my readers to not only imagine but to also feel some of the same things we as a family once felt.
2) Since this is a fictional story inspired by true life events, I wanted to inspire those who have also experienced rape, extreme poverty or abuse. Out of those three, I cannot say which one is the worst but what I can say is that each one of those unfortunate circumstances takes a part of you emotionally, mentally and physically.
3) It was a challenge. I have always enjoyed writing, but I never thought I had the talent to write a whole story. Here it is, almost seven months later and in just a few days I will be introducing the world to Poka City Blues.
4) I wanted to write something that would leave readers thinking about what they read long after they read it. If you are still discussing Poka City Blues days after you have read it, then I have done my job.
One of the best things about being a writer is that you are able to choose what you want to write about or talk about. As I am putting the final touches on my debut novel Poka City Blues, I am gearing up for my next exciting project. My next project is something that is very near and dear to my heart because it involves a disorder that one of my sisters has lived with and struggled with her whole life. What disorder am I referring to? Tourette’s Syndrome. Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is often misunderstood and made fun of. People who live with Tourette’s Syndrome have feelings and emotions just like the next person and I believe that if more awareness is made about this neurological disorder, the more understanding society will be as a whole when it comes to individuals living with Tourette’s Syndrome.