Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Does Feedback Do for an Author? Gabby Grimm Returns

A lot of authors cringe when they read reviews, but not me. I like to consider what readers have to say because they are, after all, my audience.

When I offered my books on Library Thing, I was surprised and delighted that voracious readers were also considerate reviewers. That's a great source of feedback. Even criticism is a useful tool for an author. We should never be worried about what people think of our books. If we put stories out there that don't touch readers, that don't connect with the people they are meant to entertain, it's time to undergo some self-reflection.

One of my favorite comments was from Rhonda Readalot, a woman with a reading blog. This is a woman who truly loves to read, and when she makes a comment, I like to listen. She didn't like the second in my series of Gabby Grimm Fairy Tale Mysteries as well as the first. Why? Because I didn't feature that hunk, Sam Hogan, as much. And you know what? She had a valid point. The storyline involved Gabby missing the absent Sam and there was a happy ending, including a scene I thought was rather romantic, but was it enough?

The truth is Sam Hogan is a wonderful counterpart to Gabby. As brave and big-hearted as she is, Gabriella Grimm is still all woman under the uniform, badge, and gun. Sam is all man, and frankly, he's hard to resist. A man with a tough job to do, often gone for long stretches of time, he knows it's hard to maintain a relationship over a couple of continents. That's why Sam makes the effort to let Gabby know he's thinking about her. But is it enough to keep the romance going?

The ironic thing about Sam is that his ex-wife found him boring. Gabby knows better. She's worked side by side with him in some dangerous situations. That knowledge of his professional work is what helps Gabby trust Sam more and more with her heart.

Will other readers come to trust Sam in Gabby's life, too? Time will tell. But in my next Gabby Grimm Fairy Tale Mystery, Little Red Riding Hood and the Secret Cookie Recipe, Sam is her secret weapon. When Sheriff Rufus Parteger finds his family a target of kidnappers, he takes extreme measures and goes on the run. Suddenly Gabby is thrust into the position of being, not only the acting sheriff of Latimer Falls, but also Sam's boss. That's right. She temporarily deputizes Sam Hogan because she has faith that he can help her get the Parteger family back in one piece. That's a lot of trust in her man.

But this is also a chance for Gabby to try out the sheriff's shoes. What kind of job will she do? Will it prove too much? The worst part of the crisis is that Gabby has to work it with fewer people on her team, so they're overworked and understaffed. If that's not bad enough, the crisis revolves around an old mob case Rufus handled back before he came to Latimer Falls. Corrupt cops provided protection for the bad guys all those years ago and that hasn't changed. Gabby's really up against it. Can she solve this case in time to save Rufus and his family?

Little Red Riding Hood and the Secret Cookie Recipe was also shaped by another reader who wants longer Gabby Grimm adventures. When readers genuinely enjoy characters and stories, I'm more than happy to oblige. This will be the longest Gabby Grimm Fairy Tale Mystery.

I'm never going to please all readers. I know that. But when those readers who enjoy my books reach out and offer feedback, I really do use it to inspire me. This is just one example of how constructive comments can help an author learn and improve.

Want to read an excerpt? You'll find it here:


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