Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Taken by me off the dock of my family's cabin on San Juan Island a few summers ago. It speaks to me of home. I love the black of the land juxiposed against the colors of the sky.

6:30am and 74 degrees.
Cloudy skies.
No tradewinds.
Coffee's on.
Millhousethecat has posted a review of LOTTERY on her blog THE LITTER BOX (which I think is a totally cool name for a blog!).
As an author it is hard to see plot elements being revealed but I know it is inevitable. She was gracious enough not to include spoilers for which I am profoundly grateful.
I try not to be traumatized or micromanaging when someone wishes to do an interview or review but it is hard not to feel misunderstood! Try and think what I am going through now.
LOTTERY is out of my hands. I have no control over what readers or reviewers think or say.
I am reminded of sunsets...
Taken in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The summer I finished my first novel. The year I finally admitted I was over 50. The time I was comfortable with only my thoughts for company.

A wild night. Our boat was tossing. We had 12 people aboard and Christmas lights spread from bow to aft. I was on edge. Waiting until we turn for home. Anxious to have ORION back safely moored.

Maybe you don't like my sunsets at all. Maybe you would prefer one from Dr. Ian's photo collection. It is brilliant, yes?
My eyes have to squint when I look at it but it takes me back to that place. That time. The ringing smacks of his son's feet on the concrete pavement as he flitted back and forth behind us.

So which sunset is best? Can you choose?
How would you describe them?
Would you remark on the colors? The composition? The photographic technique?
Or are you more interested in the story behind them? Where they were taken and by whom.
My point?
It is just like a novel.
You read it. You love it. Or you are unmoved.
"I much prefer deeper oranges and a bit of rose in my sunsets," you say.
Your friend disagrees.
"I love the way the clouds obscure the sun," he insists. "It is so subtle."
They are clouds.
They are sunsets.
How do you review them?
How do you critique them?
This is how I must think, now.
This is how I must think...
And evidently I think today like my friend


Adrienne said...

As the author of a pirate book I must choose the last sunset as my favourite:

A red sun crosses the remaining stretch of the sky over the caribbean, hot and unforgiving even in these last few hours of the day, it would be beautiful if only you could look at it directly. In moments it will have vanished, and the night will be dark and forboding. And the Slandered Virtue will sail into harbour . . .

Lisa said...

I can see that being the subject of interpretation must be disconcerting. There will surely be a lot of people talking about Lottery (and that’s a good thing!), so it might be a good time to concede that not everyone will get everything and get it right, but that it doesn’t matter. Once your words are out in the world, there will undoubtedly be lots of people who see exactly what you intended. I’ll bet it might be interesting and even enlightening to hear that people see something in your work that you may not even have consciously intended, but that is true. In the end, your words will speak for you and based on the beauty of the prose in your posts, they will be all you need. I can only speak for myself when I say that I read reviews, but put little real stock in how the reviewer reiterates the author’s intent since I know they can’t possibly know. You are in a wonderful place and if you can surrender to the forces outside of your control and go with it, the ride will be that much better.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I go for sunset number three, also. I like intense. Just like that little boy flitting about on the concrete.

Kimber An said...

I like the first sunset best. Beautiful pictures. You know how I appreciate them!

I can only imagine how you feel having LOTTERY in the hands of reviewers. Sure, I've had mine critted, but the critters didn't publisize their opinions to the world!

Dawn said...

Ditto what Lisa said.

It's time to let your baby go. Most of us will be gentle with her because we see her inner beauty. And the others? You've raised a resillient little sprog. She'll be right.

ORION said...

Oh you guys are so wonderful!
I have to go back and do an interview!
How exciting!

David L. McAfee said...

Well, Pat. If those four pictures make me feel anything at all, and I am being honest about this, it would have to be a deep, pleasant kind of envy.

When I think of you, living on the Pacific, out in the waters of one of the most beatiful places on Earth, I realize how much I miss the Tropics, and the Pacific.

The photos are part of the reason I so enjoy your blog. Here in the landlocked Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee I can only dream of water so blue and still. Not that we don't have our own Beautiful Places...


...that water is so blue!

As for the reviews, well...I'd love to offer advice but I have none to give, having never been in that position. Although I imagine it would be frustrating to read a review of one's own work, especially if the reviewer interpreted it differetly than you intended. I have had this happen with betas, but in those cases it is possible to reexamine the work (if needed), which is a blessing.

All I can say is Kudos! Your book is being reviewed! I know one thing, though; I'm going to read it as soon as I get my hands on it (my copy has already been ordered...woohoo!).

Therese said...

One of the bits of wisdom I culled from my writing workshops--and then drilled into my own students' heads--was to always evaluate a work on its own terms.

If it's a romance, is it really romantic?

If it's a thriller, does it really thrill?

A "good" book is a book that does well whatever it is trying to do.

Which is entirely separate from individual evaluations of taste--and too bad we can't escape those sorts of criticisms, eh?

I'm sure you're feeling kinda vulnerable (well I should know, only 60 days until my UK release!)but you have the right frame of mind to handle what comes. Hang in there! You have lots of fans behind you already!

millhousethecat said...

No worries from this reviewer.

While I had to temper my review so as not to give to much away, the final thought, the last word for Lottery?


Kanani said...

I write short and sometimes a big longer reviews for the guys who print the newspaper, The Los Angeles Times Pressmen. They like things to be short and to the point.

I try not to give away a lot of the plot or repeat things that are already found on the official description of the book or accompanying literature. I do tell what makes the writing strong, whether or not the characters are compelling, what wisdom or thoughts are imparted, and what it means to me. I did this with the Cormac McCarthy review.

Just as I'll do for "Lottery" in July.

Sam said...

It's so hard to let the baby - er - book, go. LOL.
The best thing to do it say 'well, he graduated with honors, he's got his own apartment and his own set of friends, and I hope he invites me for supper once in a while...'

It's the empty nest syndrome...

kimneedscoffee said...

#2 - I like the foreboding ocean in the foreground. You'll need a thick skin once Lottery comes out I'm sure. Not everyone will see it through the same eyes - human eyes. Some people resemble trolls and lizards. But you blog not so nice things about them, can't you? OK, maybe not. MMMM, do I smell coffee? Off to get the kids onto the bus.

Anonymous said...

Honey bun, I have stared at all those brilliant photos and frankly, I don't see the cabana boys, whose rippling muscles and invinting eyes reflect the warm colours of these setting suns and can only assume they are off camera holding your icy drink/camera lens, wearing nothing but a pair of snug flora bermuda shorts and a glistening white smile.

Not that I have anything against the sun going down but, yanno, perspective is everything.

Right. Enough about me.

Who do you want cast as the lean in Lottery - The Movie?

Demon Hunter said...

Love the pics, Pat. They're beautiful! :*)

Bernita said...

Pat, my husband just finished Lottery and pronounced it "excellent."
He loved Gram and Keith, too.

writtenwyrdd said...

Each new display of glorious sunset is the most perfect, most memorable, most breathtaking moment. Until the next time.

And thus it is with wonderful reads, too. Are you and bernita on the same bandwith today? Or maybe it's just me...

ORION said...

Wow! That's way cool Bernita!
Thank you for letting me know.
I very much hope it is a story that resonates with a broad audience.
e.ann -- The cabana boys! I KNEW I forgot something!

LisaR said...

The thing to remember about the critiques of Lottery is that you've gotten it far enough to be critiqued. That is a huge accomplishment and a testament to your talent. A lot of people are behind you and believe in you. What a journey and its only just now getting started. I vote for picture number 3 by the way! Great shot!

ORION said...


LadyBronco said...

The first one is my favorite.