Wednesday, August 22, 2012

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Episode #1





I know. You have questions about this segment, right? Like what is this Opposites Attract thing? What crazy scheme is Julie Cross up to now? Why does she always talk so much and overuse the words—so, okay, basically, just—oh…and ellipses, what’s up with all the ellipses?!   


I’m not sure I can answer all those questions and…so…basically, I think you should just accept me the way I am, okay?

So…Opposites Attract, is where I take two reviews of Tempest that received identical ratings but have very opposite opinions and show them here (without naming reviews or linking to the review or source. I’m just using things Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Blog reviews). I will display the contrasting opinions by highlighting them in PINK.

Notes from me are in brackets with the text they refer to highlighted in YELLOW and my notes are not about defending myself…okay, maybe a little, but mostly, I feel like it’s a chance to see many sides. We could all be a little more open-minded, me included. AND also, I actually talked to one of these reviewers and she was excited to have some of the time travel that confused her, explained. I’m going to try my best to do this. 

Also, to see my views on Authors reviewing other books on line, check out this post. And if you still like authors and want to meet them after reading this post, then check out my tips for what you need to know before meeting an author. 

Andrew: "Why do you have to insult everybody?"
John Bender: "I'm being honest, asshole. I would expect you to know the difference."--The Breakfast Club

I have a feeling I might actually cause a riot with this post, but hear me out…I’m just trying to:


1)     Answer questions that emerge in reviews because I love the questions and the debates regarding Tempest and love the chance to tell my side of the story.

2)     Show the world that authors CAN be mature about negative reviews.

3)     Prove that there are benefits to all kinds of reviews-negative and positive.

4)     Show everyone that authors DO care what readers think in the sense that we listen and we process and we might even make changes or think about those thoughts/comments the next time we sit down to write or we might really want a chance to explain ourselves.

5)     It’s important for authors to remember, and those of you on your way to being published, that a so-called negative review (usually means 1 or 2 star rating out of 5, though some consider 3 stars negative) is just one reader’s feelings about a book. It is NOT a reflection of the author themselves. Even if they say your name in the review it’s still not about YOU as a person. I am not defined by Tempest the novel therefore, I cannot be defined by a review of Tempest the novel.

6)     Most of all because saying, “Oh, I just ignore them” in regards to those 1 and 2 star reviews or saying “Oh, I never read those” is NOT considered a mature way to handle negative feedback. And don’t get me wrong, there are days when I can’t look because I’ll craw under my bed and never come out, but in the beginning, you gotta read some of them at the very least. There is always a way to learn more. Even if it’s just the simple fact that you can’t please everyone.

 
"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."--The Breakfast Club 

*WARNING! This post contains TEMPEST spoilers. I will not, however, spoil VORTEX so no worries about that.  

 

TEMPEST REVIEW #1 2/5 stars

"I initially selected this book because it was touted to be science fiction. I love science fiction and I love time-travel stuff. But this book ISN'T science fiction. It is yet another tepid YA romance barely disguised in scifi clothing.
[I’m actually okay with this because I was going for mainstream sci-fi and not hard-core. This will disappoint some people and allow others the confidence to pick up the book]

"The characters were either unlikable or boring. Jackson is our protagonist, and I spent most of my time either hating him or feeling apathetic to him. Like Jacob in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"
  [I haven’t read this book yet]

"Jackson is a spoiled rich brat that whines about how awful his life is as his chauffeur drives him to his private apartment in New York City from NYU."
 [The thing is, money doesn’t help with any of his issues] 

"Oh, and he is pretty damn experienced on the dating scene (as long as it deals only with getting physical and avoiding revealing your emotions OF COURSE)"

[His relationship with Holly is a lot more than physical but it’s a matter of showing versus telling. I was told a long time ago, when deciding if a guy was being honest with me, I should watch what he does rather than what he says and with Jackson, his actions speak the words he can’t say] 

"super-duper smart (but NOT nerdy!), and able to learn super speshul spy stuff within a day (enough to overpower a professional CIA agent!!)"

[I guess this is what people want? If he didn’t learn the new skills the plot would have froze with no possible forward motion. **Inside secret, in the first draft of Tempest, Jackson stayed in 2007 for three months longer than he stays in the final version and it took him 3 months to get good at agent skills. We decided later that the story needed to move faster and the real CIA training comes at the beg Of VORTEX now] 

"Towards the end, Jackson does get a bit more likable (especially as he interacts with his sister and his past demons), but it was nowhere near enough to make me care about what happens to him or his boring girlfriend. Oh yeah, his girlfriend, Holly. Dull as mud. Of COURSE, she is virginal"

[This will forever come back and bite me in the ass. It became such a part of Holly’s character through her diaries that I didn’t think about it being cliché. Something I would probably do differently given the chance, if only to avoid these comments] 

"and goody-two-shoes, studious, hard-working, a romantic at heart (must be from all those "romance novels" she reads *eye roll*)"

[On page 233 of Tempest, Holly is referenced to have been reading a John Grisham novel. I never imagined her as a girl who reads romance. Probably not even the YA kind, but maybe there is another mention of a romance novel?]
 
"and all the "good" qualities in a woman. She was not interesting in the slightest."

[This is a lot more to Holly than seen in Tempest. Many Jackson/Holly scenes were cut in editing, but when it comes down to it, it’s Jackson’s story. Not Holly’s. In my mind, sometimes we don’t know why we fall in love with some people. Could be timing or a hidden quality. To us, Holly seems ordinary, to Jackson she’s very different than the girls he grew up with and went to school with. The thing about 2009 Holly is that she sees the person Jackson has the potential to become long before he realizes it. Holly is all about potential.]

"As for Jackson and Holly, I have NO idea why these two are together. Sure, they have their "cute meet" (where she dumps a smoothie on his shoes), but honestly, their dating relationship is just that: two people dating. I felt no chemistry between them, no love, no sacrifice, no mature emotions whatsoever. Every scene with them was boring; since most of the book was Jackson trying to get back to Holly, that made most of the book boring as well. I ended up skimming a LOT of the scenes with them in it." 

[I don’t think there’s any way to correct these issues because I wrote many of these scenes with the intention of the reader having to read between the lines. Maybe that’s a lot to handle in an already complex plot? Honestly, I’m okay with the comment because I feel like I used to be so obvious and have my characters spill all their feelings in big proclamation speeches so I’m actually proud of my ability to give Jackson the element of being subtle about his emotions in regards to Holly. One benefit of comments like this is that it might encourage boys who were worried about too much romance to pick up the book. And again, I had to stay true to my POV and I was only in Jackson’s head and not Holly’s.]

"Adam is so stereotypical and cliched, it's embarrassing. Beyond his one role as the friend that Jackson can come to get to ANYTHING nerdy done, Adam is a blank sheet. His parents are conveniently clueless, so their teenaged son can run around and do anything without him having to explain what he is doing (typically, "shoving the parents in the closet" syndrome--the only worse way to do it was if Adam's parents were dead)."
 
[I agree that Adam is a bit cliché, he is the Doc Brown and Jackson needs him. I have so many ideas for Adam’s character and so much story to tell and I hope there’s a way for me to tell it someday, but it doesn’t fit in the confines of this plot, unfortunately. I did give Adam a little bit of layer in the free prequel story, Tomorrow Is Today.]

"Now, Jackson's father, Kevin, is slightly more interesting. As the story progressed, I did get interested in him, and I do appreciate how Cross did NOT make him EVULZ and uncaring to his son. However, lots of cliches surround him."
 
[Agreed. And I love writing J’s Dad]

"Other characters, such as the baddies and Miss Stewart, are all sorts of cliche. We have the Dying Sister, the EVUL baddies, the Innocent Child, and even a contender for Love Interest for the next book."

[Who?!]

"The story is boring, predictable, and confusing. The rules of Jackson's time jumping are unclear and don't make sense. He can't change anything in the past when he half-jumps, but when he full jumps he does."

[Full jumps are an alternate Universe, but in Vortex and at the end of Tempest it’s revealed that some can do the full jumps in the same timeline and that would be the Hollywood time travel. But at the end of Tempest, Thomas is the only one known to be able to do this.] 

"But that past is not in the same timeline as his home base? How do they return to the same timeline? Is that a special ability? What happens to money he spends in both jumps?"

[If it were a Half-jump, the money he spent while in the past would still be in his wallet upon returning because his body stays in the present. He also couldn’t bring anything back with him to home base from a half-jump. Adam explains this on page 121 of the hardcover version. If it were a full jump, to an alternate timeline or within the same timeline, everything would go with him if it’s on his person…just like the 2009 backpack that comes with him.] 

"What are the rules for him bringing stuff into the past? Why would Jackson want so badly to meet Holly of 2007, when he is trying to save Holly of 2009?"

[Very good question. I had to put myself in Jackson’s shoes and remember that he’s going to be in a constant battle with logic and emotion. The emotional side of him needs to call her and hear her voice and then even that isn’t enough. Physically seeing her becomes important. He’s lost and trying to grab onto to something he knows or once knew. Emotion wins for a while and his selfish feelings] 

"Why doesn't he try to find Adam first?"

[If I could rewrite, I would have him find Adam first. It occurred to me after everything was already in place that Jackson’s character had been built to do this. But then again, he probably never imagined younger Adam would even believe him.] 

"Why quit school and become a janitor? Who hires a 17 year-old janitor?"

[I’m not sure…guess I was taking a chance on that one]

"Who hires a 17 year-old to teach gymnastics to preschoolers?"

[I started teaching preschoolers gymnastics when I was 15 and as a gymnastics program director for the YMCA, I hired kids as young as 14 to teach classes. This is not uncommon] 

"Why does Jackson avoid his father (I know the father "tried" to kill him in 2003, but if his father is a CEO, maybe he is used to assassination attacks--plus, Jackson WAS in his father's locked office)?"

[Again, this is situation of logic and emotion fighting a battle in Jackson. Part of him doesn’t want to see his dad as anything than what he’s always known and if just confronts him, he’ll have to face the truth. It takes him a while to come to terms with this and on page 271 J’s dad says he was just trying to protect Jackson because his life is a lot to accept all at once and Jackson says, “I get that. But now I’m at the point where I’d just rather you told me. No matter how bad it is.”] 

"I had so many questions about the last 50 pages or so, but I will avoid as they may be spoilerish. As for story, I pretty much saw where it was going after the first 100 pages. There were a few surprises, but most of the surprises were just my being confused or bored with Jackson trying to woo Holly. Why is he wasting time trying to woo 2007 Holly? It isn't going to save 2009 Holly."

[To him it’s just Holly and he can’t seem to stay away from her]

"The biggest thing that kept me going was the time traveling stuff. It was interesting (if confusing), and I did see a lot of similarities between this and Jumper. I only wish that this book was half as good as Jumper"
[I haven’t read Jumper but I recently watched the movie]. 

"Tempest" was a very disappointing book. It does what a lot of YA books are doing today: pretending to be scifi books while then spending more time on the "romance" between the protagonists than the scifi elements that drew the readers to the book"

[Comments like this in a review could draw more romance readers and those weary of heavy sci-fi to read Tempest. And honestly, I didn’t set out to write a sci-fi, to me, it’s a book about difficult choices] 

"If I want to read a romance, I'll read a romance. If I want to read a scifi, I am NOT going to pick a book with unlikable, cliched characters, an incoherent plot and time traveling that takes a backseat to the romance. Not recommended."

"Well, if you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't, and when you do you wish you didn't, right?"--The Breakfast Club
TEMPEST REVIEW #2 2/5 Stars

"If a non-reader or at least a reader who isn’t avid as myself, were to ask me to describe Tempest to them, I would tell them it’s the movie Jumper, but with time travel. This movie popped into my head very early on in the story. I loved this movie enough, that after first watching it, I was even going to read the book…this was before my reading obsession started so it’s kind of huge. After noticing the similarities, I was hoping to love them both the same, but Tempest fell flat."
[Sad, but I can't please everyone]

"I wanted this book to work for me because a) it has a male MC. B) it’s older YA"
[Having these pointed out is always good for Tempest, regardless of the rating]
"And c) the hype that seems to already be surrounding this book"
[Hype is very scary for authors, especially new ones.]
"What did work for me was Jackson himself, his relationship with Holly, and the dialogue. My favorite parts of the story are the ones Jackson and Holly are spending together and talking to one another. I did tear up at one or two points while reading.
This book being about time travel and whatnot, I wanted my focus to be about the traveling and not to be on the romance. I wasn’t craving for more information into the word of time travelers, nothing shocked me. I was confused throughout the entire book about the inner-workings of a time traveler. I possibly am still confused. Will other readers be confused? Possibly not, it could just be me. I found it hard to wrap my brain around all the little details in regards to what’s allowed and what isn’t, how it will work this way but won’t work another way, how one person can and another can’t,
and about which time period I was reading about at the present time."

[Very important editing people also wanted the rules to be more black and white for every time-traveler but I fought to get my way on this one because I know from my years of gymnastics and coaching the sport that kids can do a skill one day and they can’t the next day. It’s a mental game and Jackson is fighting it the whole book. I also thought of the moms that can lift cars off their children to safe them]

"Who would I recommend this book to? If you’re a fan of time travel I would say give it a go. I have noticed with time travel books/movies I am either totally confused or I totally understand. I would also recommend this book to my husband and a couple of guy friends."
[See, I LOOOOVE this comment] 

"I personally didn’t like it, but since the story is told from a male’s point of view, I think he would particularly enjoy it. If you enjoyed the movie Jumper, I would also say to give this book a shot! Tempest already has plans in the works for a movie. I would enjoy seeing this in movie form even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the novel."
[Me too!]

So, as you can see, both reviewers had very different opinions of the characters and of the romance. But I noticed both said maybe it was too much about the love story. I’m actually excited about that in some ways because there are more reviews from those that a wanted a front and center (Twilight) type romance and were disappointed that they didn’t get that from Tempest because it is also about Courtney and J’s Dad and so much more…

Now its time for you to tell me what you thought of this analyses…would these reviews have or do they now (for those who haven’t read Tempest) change your views on the book or cause you to not read it? Or maybe cause you to read it when you didn’t think you wanted too? *rubs hands together* my evil plan is working. 

Kidding. 

Sort of.

8 comments:

  1. I personally had to reread Tempest several times, if only for the whole time traveling bits that confused me. While I do see why some who love scifi and picked this up were disappointed to see it in the background of holly and jackson's relationship, I didn't see it that way. For every Upcoming YA book that receives a LOT of hype, I have to make sure my head's cleared before I read the book so I can give it a fair chance before I tear into it. All In all, I did see Tempest being about difficult decisions, and I enjoyed that as opposed to seeing it as a Twilight-esque novel.

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    1. Thanks Jazmin! Its so hard to fit every book into a tiny box as far as giving it a category and that can be difficult for readers sometimes, but if sales teams don't pick a direction and own it with the pitch and packaging, then the book gets lost in the mix of lots and lots of new titles. So, i get why it needs that sci-fi label and I get why sci-fi fans might be a little disappointing. I actually anticipated that long before the book released but figured it was a trade-off for having a more broad audience and I don't know hard-core sci-fi and when it comes down to it, I love the characters and relationships and you have to write what you know.

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  2. I haven't had time to review Tempest yet, but I absolutely loved it! I haven't read anything like it, and even though I've seen Jumper, I wasn't thinking about the movie as I read the book. I thought Jackson was a great narrator. He was attached to his girl and wanted to get close to her, even in 2007. I suppose he was curious as to what she used to be like. I enjoyed the fact that she was a different Holly in 2007...I kind of liked her better as her younger self. She seemed more lighthearted and less serious, but we grow and can become serious, so that was realistic. I am one of those reluctant sci-fi readers who is okay that it has been labeled sci-fi. I agree with you; there's a wide audience this will appeal to between reluctant sci-fi readers and romance enthusiasts. I appreciate the second reviewer's thoughts more. That person was very honest; she didn't like it, but many guys she knew would. It was much more removed and acknowledged that other view points could be possible after reading the book. The first reviewer was doing a lot of bashing. I don't remember any romance novels in the book. At any rate, you've written an amazing book with a complicated plot. All I could think when I finished was, I wonder how long this took her to plot! I'm thoroughly impressed.
    I also appreciate this post. It's hard to have others critique your work, especially when their thoughts are negative. You are definitely making the best of the negative criticism. What a way to look on the bright side of certain comments! Not all authors are able to do that. It makes me want to read Vortex and anything else you write-- not only because I enjoyed your first book and the story was action-packed, but because you are someone who can take criticism with a grain of salt and continue to try to improve. Also, it's a huge accomplishment just to realize you can't please everyone!

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it! and you are so right, it's hard to learn that lesson about not being able to please everyone.

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  3. I read Tempest and really enjoyed it. No book is perfect and that is something we all need to remember. I loved the pace and characters in Tempest, especially how your male characters really acted like guys. This was a book I couldn't put down and I'd recommend it to others.

    As for the reviews you are mentioning, I like to refer to them as Diarrhea of the Mouth. These days people just throw up words and they can do it so easily due to the internet without thinking of the consequences.

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    1. Thank you, Christina! and honestly speaking (because I'm trying to do that now) I don't really think the angry reviews hurt book sales. Quite the opposite. Something about hearing rumors of a book where the rich business guy has a secret "play room" that whisks innocent college girl away to and oh... the things he does in that room...its horrible. no one should read it ever...(and they've already left to go buy 50 Shades of Grey).

      I'm not condoning this or anything, but I've learned from sitting back and watching how it works that getting upset over reviews. Any novel the evokes very strong opinions from readers on either side is probably going to become a bestseller.

      But for me, when I talk about a book, I usually assume that I got something wrong or the author knows more than I do, so I can't really jump out and say, this is all wrong...I guess I'm non-confrontational and I like a lot of books so maybe I'm easier to please?

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  4. You are all kinds of awesome for writing this post :)

    I super loved Tempest - I loved the mix of scifi and the romance because I super adore both genres :)

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