Brown River Queen cover art

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review for "The Broken Bell"

There's a deep and therapeutic sense of release on the day and in the hour that a new book is released into the world.  The author can finally sigh in relief.  The writing is done.  The editing is done.  There are no more decisions to be made, no more words to scrutinize, no more nuances to ponder and weigh.  The manuscript has become a book, and readers will either love it or hate it or, worst of all, pass it by without a second glance.  But its fate is out of the author's hands.

That deep relief I just described lasts maybe an hour.

Because right after you wave farewell to your manuscript and comment on what a grown-up book it has become, with that shiny new cover and that freshly-minted ISBN number, you as a writer know what lies ahead.

Book reviews.

That's right.  Book reviews.  Someone with no predisposition to love your hard-born literary offspring is, maybe, picking it up, frowning at the back cover copy, skipping the dedication and starting with Chapter One.

What if -- gasp -- they don't like it?

What if -- moan -- they read that first sentence, that first sentence that you spent three weeks agonizing over, that first sentence that you were sure an hour ago represented the apex of your wit, wisdom, and talent, and they read it and hate it?

What if -- shudder -- you've been fooling yourself all along and you have the writing skills of a freshly-stunned blowfish, and that cold cruel inescapable fact is about to be broadcast to he world at large?

What if?

Now do you see why writers are so fond of strong drink?

So yeah, about an hour after a release I get fidgety.  I set a Google alert for my title.  I start doing sporadic searches on it just in case a review so bad pops up Google doesn't have the heart to show it to me.

And I wait.  Wait for that first review.

Well, boys and girls, the wait is over.

The first official review for The Broken Bell is in.

Before I post the link, let me 'splain about the reviewer and why her opinion matters so much to me.

First of all, Ann Somerville is both reader and writer.  Go ahead, click her name -- she's got literally pages of books on Amazon.  Good books, too.  And not just good in the enjoyable to read sense, either -- I mean she can write. With complexity, nuance, and insight. She doesn't flinch. She doesn't stutter.  Her fictional worlds live and breathe, and they'll take your breath away.

You should stop right now and grab one of her ebooks.  The first book of hers I read was Interstitial, which she published with Samhain.  There's a razor-sharp mind behind that book.  On my best day, I'm more of a blunt instrument mind.

Ann and I have never met.   We're net buddies, sure, but if I wrote a stinker of a book, Ann would say so, because she's honest.  And I'd have nothing but the utmost respect for her evaluation, because I know she knows good writing when she sees it, and when she doesn't.

All of which is a very roundabout way of explaining why this review of The Broken Bell is so significant to me.  It's validation by peril, if that makes sense.

So now I can breathe that sigh of relief.  If Ann Somerville gives Broken Bell that many stars, I've done something right!

Oh, and one more thing.  Too often everyone, me included, forgets that a lot of people worked on The Broken Bell. Believe me when I say that the manuscript I submitted and the book you buy are two very different reading experiences!  So thank my editor, Bethany Morgan.  She's every bit as responsible as I am for bringing The Broken Bell to market!

Please click the link and read Ann's review here.

Finally, my late mother also contributed to The Broken Bell.  The original ending was a cliffhanger, and she read the book -- no easy feat, when you're in the last stages of ALS and you can move two fingers and nothing else -- and when she was done, she said I really needed to wrap things up.  Said it forcefully.  I believe her exact words, typed out one agonizing letter at a time, were "Boy you are in big trouble with this ending."

So I added another thousand words, and I'm glad I did.

Thanks, Mom.  I'm going to miss having you read the next one.


  1. Aw Frank....

    But I'm not the first 'official' review. I'm just another reader, ya know?

    I'm actually partial to Kellie's remark in her five star review:

    "If I was Bill Gates I would keep Frank Tuttle in a cage, throw him the occasional steak and just make him write nonstop. He has a knack for not messing up the ending. "


    I think your mother must have been incredibly proud of you and what you've achieved, and it's very sad you won't have her encouragement right there for the next one. But her words and the memory of her past praise should sit on your shoulder and remind you of what you are and what you can do.

  2. Sorry to hear about your Mother. My Grandmother had ALS. :(

    Well I don't read reviews, so I'm not much good at writing them either. Of course I enjoyed the book and am anxiously waiting for the next book.