Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Kind Words Make a Good Day

I'll be honest. I'm a bit sick of promoting my book. I know it's important, and I'm thrilled with the reviews so far, but sometimes it becomes a bit much and I start to think I'm becoming narcissistic, if not an egomaniac. Even looking at my Facebook feed makes me grimace. Yet another post about The Last Angel? Really?

Unfortunately, that's part of the deal for anyone who owns their own business. Forget that I'm an artist. If you don't promote your work, who will? The notion that you can "stand on your own" and "just let people find you" is nonsense. The truth is, you have to push. You can do it with class and humility, but you still have to push. Fortunately, most people seem to understand this, and if your work is good enough, they'll even applaud you for bringing it to their attention.

It's still uncomfortable though. 

That said, the reviews for The Last Angel have been very encouraging, and today was one of those days when an author is very encouraged. First, I found this new review on Goodreads:
"Full disclosure: Stephen is a best friend. Also: I'm a discriminating reader and read widely across genres: from Sanderson to Atwood to non-fiction to theological tomes. The Last Angel was quite unlike anything I've ever read - and I loved it. 

Frankly, I'm not used to reading "page-turners;" that's what The Last Angel is. I'm not used to encountering deep, contemporary theological questions about the nature of God in a novel; that's what The Last Angel does. I'm not used to loving a world so much that I wished the book weren't over and can't wait for the next one; again: The Last Angel. 

The writing style is fast-paced, but doesn't sacrifice on richness: you get the sense that this is a deep world and the characters have a thick backstory. Something happened decades ago that shaped the setting and moulded the people, and you just want to find out everything you can about it. Steve does not disappoint: he slowly time-releases this information exactly when it suits the plot and gives the reader a jolt of surprise.

From Tommy and Kallie, to the Nephilim and even (unexpectedly) the Ganath and supporting characters, everyone is important and unique - no character feels "tropey," but rather imbued with their own emotions and motivations. This serves the action well, as we're never quite sure what to expect - but when the characters act, it's because they're being true to the selves that we're discovering as readers methodically throughout the story. 

'Loved the author's iconoclastic questions about God. You get a sense of his wrestling with traditional pat answers about God - and it's fun that he puts those struggles in the mouths of authoritative "angelic" characters such as the Nephilim and the Ganath. These are not trivial pop-neo-athiest or evangelical stereotypes. The creatures in this book have the same questions we do about God in a world like ours, but they know just a little more about "Father" by proximity. And what they say about him makes sense.

In short: I ripped through this book, reading it whenever I had spare time - even just a few pages at a time if the minutes allowed. I didn't want to leave the world - and can't wait to get back to it in Book II. This is a fast-moving, action-packed, theology-filled thrill. I haven't had so much fun reading a novel in years. "

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a picture of the book with this message: 
"Look what came in the mail today!! A friend of mine has published his very first novel, and let me tell you it's goooooood. SO excited to have a copy! If you enjoy reading, pop over to Amazon and grab a copy for yourself, you won't be disappointed!! Available in print or e-novel, just specify which you prefer once you click the link below 😉"

Two more people posted pictures of the book as well, and it was all, well, it was very humbling. And it made my day. 

As I go through this process for the first time, it's amazing that I've never realized how important it was to share my love for a particular piece of art and what a difference it made for the artist.

Amazon and Goodreads make a work more accessible by the number of reviews that a work receives. That's it. It doesn't even matter if those reviews are negative. When a book causes people to comment, the algorithm finds the work more easily. 

That, of course, mirrors our society. When a Kardashian, with the intellectual vigor of an astute five-year-old,  can pull down great ratings, we begin to see what drives modern commerce. 

I'm not dismissing my society or snubbing my nose at it, but what I am saying is that if you do find an artist you like, take a couple of minutes to promote them. Write a review. Rate their work. Send them an email. All of this sounds, in some ways, quite ridiculous, because for all that we can comment on the internet about things we like and don't like, the disconnect between artists and those who enjoy their work have never been higher.

But today a few people took the time to tell me, and their peers, how much they enjoyed my book. It not only made my day, but inspired me. So if you find an artist whose work you like, let them know. Let your friends and family know. And for goodness sake, if you're looking for reading material, pick up a copy of The Last Angel. You won't regret it.