Discouragement

It’s been a while since I’ve written.

We got a new tire for my car. Or rather, we got 5 new tires for my car and one of them turned out to work. The first time Mr Katje went to the scrap yard he got a deal on 4 tires for 200 bucks off a 2000 Dodge Caravan — ie, my exact car.

They didn’t fit.

I don’t fucking know WHY, they just didn’t fit. They should have. SAME CAR. That night included Mr Katje lying on the ground looking at this tire he couldn’t get onto my car and saying “Happy birthday, Dear, I got you the wrong tires.”

(Yes, tires were my bday gift. I turned 31 and I got a working car. #blessed)

So he went back and was able to return them (a VERY WELCOME SURPRISE) and got a different one which definitely DID fit. So my car got all fixed up in time for me to drive up to Sechelt.

So mom and I went to the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, or FOTWA, or #SecheltWritersFest, or SCFWA, from August 17-20. We were in the tent selling books with other local indie authors.

We had a great time; I sold 2 books. Pretty good considering the overlap between SFF readers and people who go to festivals like that one is pretty slim.

Then we got back to our respective homes and Mr Katje and I went and watched the eclipse the next day, which was fucking underwhelming. I thought 86% totality was going to be pretty good but it was just disappointing. Didn’t help we couldn’t get any eclipse glasses so we had to look through pinhole boxes we’d made that morning.

When we’re 80 we’ll just look right at it because either medical technology will have progressed to the point where it doesn’t matter and we can just get new eyes, or we’ll be so close to the grave we won’t give a fuck.

Of course, my weekend away gave me con crud that is still lingering. I am coughing a lot more than usual and feeling generally blegh.

This coming weekend, the September long weekend, is our annual trip to a nearby lake to camp and be silly with other silly people all weekend, dressing up in costumes and having boat battles on the lake and enjoying a huge tea party. So of course I have 7 zillion things to do before Friday and no idea if I’m going to get them all done.

Starting on August 31st is a big author cross-promo thing I’m doing called #32Authors, so part of all the stuff I have to get done is make sure all that stuff is set to run while I’m away from my computer for the weekend. (As part of this I will be making an effort to blog more often here, like once a week.)

So I’m busy but this isn’t what was discouraging me. What’s discouraging me is this:

I have been working my ass off trying to get my mom’s new book Hot Dogs out there into the world. We made it free this weekend (ends tonight at midnight) on Kindle and paid for a couple of newsletter promo spots, one of which had come recommended by other indie authors.

Well there were a LOT of downloads after our promo spot yesterday — just 6 shy of 3,500. This made me really happy — the ad had paid off and we had gotten to #2 in our two subcategories and in the top 100 in the Kindle Store.

Then the reviews started coming in.

The book hadn’t had any consumer reviews up until now. Just an editorial review from Readers’ Favorite (Amazon doesn’t allow them to post their reviews as consumer reviews) which was 5 stars, but who reads the editorial reviews section? I honestly don’t know if people do.

The first review was 2 stars. Then we got a 5 star, followed by 2 more 3-star ones. That would give us an average of 3.25 stars, which isn’t good, but isn’t terrible either….

Except Kindle hasn’t caught up to the fact there are 4 reviews now and still just has the book listed as a 2-star book, with 1 review. EDIT: Ok as I was writing the post, they hadn’t, but they have now, so things are a little better.

I’m not posting to complain about the reviews; bad reviews happen. It’s part of life. (Though honestly, Kindle could you please hurry up and list ALL the reviews?) I’m more wondering if I just…really misjudged the audience for cozy mysteries.

HOT DOGS is written from the point of view of Tyee, our wondermutt wolf-shepherd cross. This is not the first book mom has written from the POV of a dog in her life; the other one is How to Keep a Human and it’s written from the POV of Amaruq, the wolf-husky she shared years with back in her 20s.

The styles are very similar. Tyee and Amaruq have their own voices, of course, but the style of writing is recognizable.

People LOVE How to Keep a Human, which is a collection of short stories about Amaruq’s adventures with his human.

But the thing that people love about How to Keep a Human — the point of view of life from a philosophical wolfdog’s eyes — they seem to really not like about Hot Dogs.

So I’m discouraged. I enjoyed mom’s book a lot; I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom. I tell her when I don’t like things. Hot Dogs was an enjoyable mystery set in a small town full of quirky characters, and the voice of the dog was believable.

Was the voice of the dog believable to me because I know this dog in particular?

Well, that’s not true for How to Keep a Human — I didn’t know Amaruq, but his stories are believable to me.

Maybe mom and I just have a different perception on the POV of the animals in our lives. Wolfdogs, after all, are not the same as wholly domestic dogs. They are part wild. Mom has lived with wolfdogs for ~50 years now, and I’ve had them in my life for 31. We’ve never had any other kind of dog. Until I was 18, we’d only had wolf-huskies in our lives — that was when Blue died. A year after her death, we adopted Major, a wolf-shepherd. He died several months before we welcomed Lord Tyee, another wolf-shepherd, into our lives. Tyee has been with us 7 years now.

Tyee is 75% wolf. His POV is going to be very different from a regular dog’s.

Truth be told, this is not the first time people have been disbelieving of our take on the voices of our wolfdogs. Maybe people just don’t know wolfdogs like we do. Maybe they’re expecting a more domestic dog voice. Or maybe, as in some cases, they just really hate it when authors write from the POV of an animal because they can’t suspend their disbelief.

(This 3rd option means they must not see non-human animals as thinking, feeling beings. If you don’t think non-human animals have inner lives, then no, you won’t enjoy mom’s books. Or mine, for that matter.)

Regardless, it’s discouraging, so today I’m trying not to wallow in it and instead concentrate on the zillion things I need to do before Friday.

Maybe I should put a disclaimer in the blurb: “Hot Dogs is written 100% from the point of view of a wolf-shepherd cross, Lord Tyee, as he tries to solve the mystery and communicate with his human. If you don’t like books from the POV of dogs, this is not for you.”

Till next week — I remain loonily yours,
Katje