Praise is Writer’s Crack

Praise is writer’s crack. (But all feedback is welcome)

Praise. This is crazy. I almost feel I could live on this. It’s like a layered cake and the top layer gives the sugar high. These comments:

  • This is definitely a “miss your bus stop” book. I couldn’t put it down!
  • This book was a blast! I am very pleased that there will not be a long wait for the next one.
  • I enjoyed Sleight of Hand and it left me wanting more.
  • I’m looking forward now to Amber Farrell number 2.
  • Loved it, loved it, loved it.

They pump me up! They give me energy!

But you cannot live on sugar alone. And the rest of what is being said is worth looking at too:

  • The main character is kick-ass without coming across as invincible.
  • Amber is an unusual character for UF – she used to be in the military.
  • World-building: Good. Lots to sink your teeth into (*pun completely intended*)

This is long burn carbohydrates stuff. This keeps me going on detail. I put a lot of effort into trying to make Amber’s Denver as realistic and believable as possible. Yeah, I know, Urban Fantasy, vampires, etc., but let’s think about it – what does that ‘urban’ mean? It means, IMHO, that we can relate to it. It’s about people who have jobs and live in houses or apartments and drive cars and pay bills and shop at the local stores. It’s not about people who live in castles and ride in horse-drawn carriages. So, if we’re getting real, how real can we make it? Amber can kick ass partly because she spent ten years learning how to kick ass in the military. The paranormals have reason and rationale and … Okay, too much for one post. RTB.

Then there’s the protein. This reinforces my style.

  • It’s a plus that the author didn’t clutter the book with graphic sex but instead relied on great writing and a good story.
  • Amber’s got problems and she deals with them with integrity in a thoughtful and sometimes unexpected manner.

So sex and violence is fine, but not at the expense of story. Even better, work to get the reader to fully identify with the choices Amber makes. Make them positive. Give her integrity. I will keep working at this – good enough is not good enough.

Grains. Yeah, stretching the food groups metaphor here. This is about things that are developing—what are readers interested in:

  • I want to know more about the incident that wiped out pretty much all of her squad.
  • Can’t you make Hacha del Diablo a sort of prologue?
  • Favourite Character: Tie between Amber and Bian.
  • You’ve given Diana real depth.
  • I liked that Amber didn’t jump straight into a romantic relationship, though I think I spy a love triangle coming up.
  • She’s going to do what?

The constraints of time! Yes, Hacha del Diablo (the incident where her squad died) will be a prequel short story for free. Bian’s tale will be a separate book or series of episodes on the web site or Amazon. Amber will have romantic entanglements, and I use the word deliberately. I listen very carefully to what people say. I’m not promising things, and obviously, I’m not writing by committee, but I hear you.

I love that Bian is so popular. She was ‘born’ while I was taking a trip on Denver’s light rail system, and sprang out almost fully formed as an outrageous foil for Amber. And, boy, does she have a tale to tell.

Trace elements:

  • I surprised myself that I got into a book about vampires and werewolves.

A convert! This is almost as good as the sugar high I started with.

Many thanks to everyone who has fed back to me on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, or direct contact (on the web site). I really appreciate all of it.

Thanks also to Edgar A. Guest, for the “good enough” phrase:

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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

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