Private Messages

Good morning! I was awake here in New York today at about the same time as this pic below from the other day:

[Photo by me.]

Being up at this hour has been made easy because we have stayed on UK time (five hours ahead) since we arrived here the Sunday before Thanksgiving. So it was really about “8 am.” LOL!

I may be awake early NY time. Yet I am barely paying attention to the outside world… while finishing the new novel.

The outside world is still out there, of course. (You are.) This post was prompted by a couple of private messages I received through Instagram in the last few days. First, this one:

[From a reader to me in my Instagram private messages this week.]

I take such observations as a remarkable compliment from any woman reader – particularly given the literary world in which we live now, which seems to question if a man can write women characters.

And then there was this one, too:

[From a reader to me in my Instagram private messages this week.]

I take that as even more of a compliment than the first one. Teaching history in university is difficult enough. But to write even a fictional story that includes what is sure to be contentious, uncomfortable, and even ugly and sad history that may also appeal as entertainment to the widest variety of Americans is I have found even a tougher task.

Why is it so tough? Because reading fiction for entertainment is not supposed to be like being in school. So to try to write a “page turner” for those looking to be entertained that also stays true to its historical time is a huge challenge.

I have long believed that quite a few authors write “fantasy” as a way to avoid human beings and all the issues associated with human characters – especially the likes or race, religion and gender. After all, if characters are not humans and the action takes place in some fantastical realm, a writer may largely “duck” truly human dilemmas… and human history. There is no need then fully to face up to the, for example, plain fact that at U.S. independence in 1776 about one-quarter of the U.S. population consisted of Black enslaved persons and that, for instance, the man who wrote “all men are created equal” also OWNED some 200-300 people

[Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo by me, 2017.]

...or to need to attempt to deal with that reality in the text, which I perhaps stick my neck out to do:

[From a “1787” Paris scene in Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Photo by me, December 3, 2021.]

One vital authoring rule I try to live by is this: I NEVER challenge public reviews. The only exception I may make is if I am “tagged” – in which case that means someone wants me to see it and I MAY then choose to respond. (I don’t think I have ever been “tagged” by someone offering a truly negative review; but if I were I would probably just ignore it.) I never go looking for publicly offered reviews simply because everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I have found over the years that there are readers – often very articulate ones, too – who may want to talk IN PRIVATE about this or that in my books. I never mind doing that if I am approached. Most people do not want to post a review online.

Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂

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