Today’s earlier post showed the cover from my first Justice Security novel, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”. Looking at it, I thought I’d talk about reviews. One of the things that I stress almost to the point of begging is that readers of my material please go to Amazon and give an honest review! With “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, of all the things I’ve published, this novel has only 3.4 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Many were great reviews, but there were a couple of bad ones.
Consider the review from “hemmedin”, relevant portions shown: “This is an average thriller-action movie script. …the "King Louis" character was so full of ebonics and lousy dialect ("dat" instead of "that" every time he spoke) I was nauseated. If you like blood, explosions and simplistic "super" characters, this is your book. I really do expect to see it as a movie, though, and I will save my money at that time.”
Exactly. That’s the way I write! I see stories as movies, or whatever you want to call it, happening in my head, and I describe all of it as a story! Unfortunately, the reader has no way of knowing that, so it maybe does read like a script. And, no, the Justice Security characters are not “simplistic ‘super’ characters”, as this reviewer describes. They are honed, with muscles, training, and good reflexes. They have distinct personalities that are only hinted at in this introductory novel. They get injured, and possibly die, as has been demonstrated in following stories. No one, and I emphasize, no one, is safe in the imaginary city that these characters call home.
“King Louie” and his ebonics were intentional. Louie himself explains the sad/sorry reason that he slips into that dialect from time to time, in this exchange with Donna, his dinner date, from “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”:
Donna put down her fork and said, “Louie, may I ask you something?”
Louie put down his own fork, and replied, “Sho’ can, ma’am.”
She smiled at his small joke. “I’ve known you for about a month now…”
“A month and three days,” finished Louie. “But who’s counting, right?”
Donna smiled at Louie again. “A month and three days, then. In that time, I’ve seen several sides of you. I’ve seen the athlete. I’ve seen the man of depth and feeling. I’ve seen the man of research and education, and I’ve seen the man of violence…but only when it’s necessary, or when it’s warranted.”
“And your point? Or your question?”
“Out of all the men I’ve seen you become, the one I dislike is this one-dimensional, ebonics-spewing, black idiot. Why do you do it, Louie?”
Louie stared at her with his mouth slightly open. After a moment, he threw his head back and started laughing. He laughed so hard that other patrons turned to stare at him, and he had tears in the corners of his eyes.
“Oh, baby, thank you,” he said after he had calmed down a little.
The lady had been laughing as well…Louie’s laugh was a bit contagious. “Why are you thanking me, sweetie?” she asked.
Louie took her hand. “You are the first person that’s been brave enough to ever ask!” he responded. “The answer is simple, especially for someone that grew up in Alabama. There were still parts of that godforsaken state that looked at black people as vermin…or worse. You learned quickly to speak with that ‘eee-bonic crapspeak’ to keep from drawing attention to yourself when you spoke to ‘white folk’. Sure, it’s demeaning, and it’s one-dimensional…but, for there, and then, it was survival. Now? Sometimes, when I’m comfortable and not paying attention to how I speak, I slip back into it…and I don’t know it.” He leaned closer to her, and said, “My mama, Betty, has been after me for years to stop it. Now you. I will make a concerted effort to drop dat habit from mah speechifyin’. How dat, baby?”
Donna smacked Louie’s hand, and smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
Excerpt Copyright 2013 by T. M. Bilderback.
As I said, each character has depth, and feeling. I just didn’t unload everything in the first novel.
So, as I said, even bad reviews are good, if they help you improve…or, as in this case, if you don’t reveal all of the eggs in your basket!