We’ve all read them. Simple black words on a computer screen, subjective opinions on another person’s work. They shape our preconceived notions about a product, a service, a work of literature. A piece of a person’s heart, really. And every writer knows they must one day face their biggest fear: the negative review.
I’m writing this from a place of sadness today. And not because I have some long list of one and two star reviews, begging me to quit writing books. I’m not even sure what I would do with such painful criticism. No, today I’m just feeling the weight of gloomy reality—that no matter how technically good a piece of art I might produce, it is still just another work in a long line that’s come before and will inevitably come after. Just another Kindle file to download, read if time permits, then delete and move on.
Several voices have expressed the view that they do not enjoy cliffhanger endings. The writing was sound, the story intriguing, but they just can’t abide a novel that ends without a satisfying conclusion. And that’s a perfectly valid point. When I watch a television show, the hardest thing for me to bear is having to wait an entire summer to find out what happens after the ridiculously intense season finale leaves me on the edge of my seat and then just drops me. But please, you must understand something very important.
I have never, will never end a book abruptly in order to deceive the reader or swindle someone out of their money. I work hard for my money and I know you do too. Your time is valuable, and the simple fact that you invested a portion of that time into my words thrills me beyond belief. There is only one reason this series progresses the way it does. When I was nineteen and conceived the story, it was only supposed to be one book. But as the characters developed and the plot took on life, I realized it would never fit into three hundred little pages. It had to be split somewhere, even though there were no logical places to do so. And so, I considered the character of Luke and the involvement he had with Eliza. I split the story evenly into thirds, each a representation of a stage in her life and her relationship with this man.
Originally, I wrote November Rain between college classes and homework, hoping that I’d one day get up the nerve to share it with others. After an editor informed me that Christians probably wouldn’t enjoy an interracial love story, I picked myself up and tried again. I realized that through the years, my writing had matured. So I rewrote the entire manuscript (originally a 1st-person account) and decided to publish it on my own. If publishing houses were not willing to take the risk of offending their readers, I would.
And so the story evolved as you read it today, a result of my time, my dedication, and my love. Does it bother me that someone can get nearly ten years of my work for free and then complain because they don’t like the end? Uh, yeah. But so much more than that, it hurts me. Because I would never try to cheat you, and that was never my intent for a moment. I just want others to share in the remarkable journey I’ve been privileged to have with these characters. If I could, I would give every copy of every book away for free. But you must understand, I am an indie author. I do all the work myself, from writing to editing to formatting. With the amount of copies I sell, I don’t even make enough to break even after paying the cover artist. So I am, in essence, paying to do what I love in whatever free moments I can find between work and family and life. But I do it because I believe in what I’m writing and I want to share it.
I’m sorry to the people not satisfied with this answer. Money is tight and the bills are numerous, I know. Cliffhanger endings are annoying, I know. But please judge my work based on the writing itself. That is what I worked tirelessly to produce and that is what I want to give. And also, thank you to the people who mentioned that it does end in this fashion. I want everyone to know beforehand, so it doesn’t catch them off guard. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to provide this myself. The description would look a little awkward with a paragraph synopsis and then, “Oh yeah, and by the way, don’t expect a true conclusion until you’re done with Book 3.” Suggestions? Because I don’t know how to make this work without it just looking stupid.
To all my readers, both content and not so content, thank you. Without you taking the time to read my work, it would just sit in a corner somewhere until I die, never having any sort of impact on anyone. To those who have continually encouraged me, your support has oftentimes given me the courage and strength I needed to carry on. To those I’ve left disappointed, thank you for reminding me to try concluding the story in all my future books, as not everyone actually enjoys such endings, as I do. I take what you say very seriously and I will learn from it. So far, the jabs haven’t been directed at the storyline or my writing, so there’s hope for our friendship yet.
So, here I go again. There’s still ten chapters left to write in this series and I have my sights on that elusive conclusion. 🙂