I’m one of those writers that don’t keep track of everything I’ve written and how other people are rating it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I rail against those who read works and then never rate it but that is a double edged sword. I recognize it as such and I welcome it. I would much, much rater receive a poor review than no review at all. You might think that makes no sense but in fact, if you think about it for a minute it makes a great deal of sense.
First, how many reviews on a site are posted by friends or relatives? You really expect good friends to give poor reviews? Do I have some family members giving reviews on my stories? Certainly. They’re my beta readers, along with others. While I can’t prove it to you I also promise that some of the reviews on my story, “Changes” less than five stars were posted by family members. *laughs* Some of them, while liking the fantasy of the stories are not into anthro. My daughter graduated with a four year degree in Literature. She’s very, very critical. *laughs* That’s why she’s one of my beta readers. She’s caught holes in my early revisions that I completely missed. She’s also very critical.
The reason I’m writing today though, and the reason I mention one star reviews is because the collection of short stories titled Changes received it’s first one star review. I was shocked. I expected the lowest I’d ever receive was three stars because Changes, I’m convinced, is a great story. That’s why I’ve sent it to a professional editor to help me with weaknesses in it. I’m going to re-release this new version to see if it sells any better. So why does the collection of stories receive a one star review? Who knows? You can read the review for yourself. I’ll not argue with it because that is what this person thinks. I chalk it up to the fact you can never please everyone. Even if I were giving away money someone would complain that I hadn’t given enough to them!
I also looked at other authors who are far better than I am and found, lo and behold, they also receive their share of one star reviews. Check out the links below to some great authors and some of the reviews they have received. It’s really eye opening!
Steven King – It
George R. R. Martin – Game of Thrones
Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games
J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
These are just examples of fantastically popular stories yet every single one of them received their share of one star reviews.
I point this out in case other writers feel somehow crushed by a one star review. Yes, some writers are rather sensitive creatures. They want everyone to like their stories, their creations, their children. Not everyone will. All writers need to accept that. We need to understand, no matter how much time we put in, no matter how much research, no matter how much we try to bring out characters to life we will still get one star reviews. I’m going to wear my one star review like a badge of honor. Until I received that one star review I couldn’t realistically prove to anyone that all my reviews are real. Now I can. *laughs*
As for the teaser I mentioned, I’m slowly working on a story titled, “Rain and Willow.” It’s a story about hubris and punishment for it. It’s a story of good people caught in something far beyond their understanding and yet trying to do the right thing. Some of you have read the early versions but in the last couple of weeks I have reworked it significantly. It’s still very raw and certainly not complete, but I want to give you folks a taste. Please let me know what you think of this short excerpt. Yes, comments on a one star level are also welcome! *laughs*
Rain and Willow
“They say there is time.” Ohanzee told him. “Go into the woods and bring back three handfuls of wild cherry tree bark. Boil it and let it cool. It will help with the delivery. Hurry. Now!”
Jeremiah squeezed his wife’s hand. “There are trees nearby. I will not be gone long.”
She smiled back then grimaced as another contraction hit her. Finally she was able to say, “You hadn’t better be. I’m not doing this alone.”
Jeremiah rushed out of the cabin and grabbed the small axe Ana used to split wood for the kitchen stove. He found several small trees and stripped a length of bark from each one. Hurrying back to the cabin he showed the result to the three wolf spirits who nodded and growled at Ohanzee. He relayed, “Boil them, the results will be a cloudy liquid. Let it cool and then give Ana a small cup full. It will help with pain and ease the entry of your son into your world.”
Jeremiah did as he was told, firing up the kitchen stove and boiling a pot of water. It seemed to take forever and he wondered to himself if this was simply a way to keep him occupied. He looked to the bed every time Ana moaned but the four wolves were keeping a close eye on her so he continued following the instructions he had been given. Once the liquid was ready he poured some of it into a cup and brought it to the bed showing it to the wolves.
“They say that looks correct,” Ohanzee said after listening to them. He looked at Ana, “Drink what your husband has, all of it,” he instructed, “It will make the birthing easier.” Ana did as she was told and it wasn’t long before she settled, her body taking over.
For the next several hours there was little change as far as Jeremiah could tell. Ana moaned every time a strong contraction hit and he wiped her forehead with a damp cloth to try to sooth her. The female wolf spirits growled information to Ohanzee and he would relay what they said to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah seemed to think the contractions were getting stronger and more frequent when one of the wolf spirits barked a command at Ohanzee. “It is time.” The wolf conveyed immediately. “Do you have a sharp knife?”
“Do I what?” Jeremiah asked incredulously. “Why?”
“Get one. And string or yarn or a leather tie. Do it. Now!” the spirit commanded.
Jeremiah quickly gathered a knife and yarn Ana had been knitting a blanket with. She moaned as another large contraction hit saying, “Jer! He’s coming, I can feel it.”
The wolves barked another command at Ohanzee and he relayed, “Position yourself at the end of the bed. When your son appears you will have to guide him out. Make sure you support his head. It should appear first.”
Jeremiah went to the foot of the bed. The position was awkward, half standing, half lying on the bed, but he made sure he was close enough to be able to guide his son into the world when he appeared. One of the wolves growled another command. This time Ohanzee spoke to Anabel instructing, “They say at the next contraction push with all your strength. Your son is demanding entry into the world.”
Ana yelled loudly when the next contraction hit and bore down powerfully. Jeremiah was amazed to see a small patch of gray appear. Ohanzee told Anabel, “On the next contraction push hard. Your son is almost here.”
Jeremiah saw Ana’s stomach harden and she pushed hard, yelling out in pain. Jeremiah was taken by surprise when his son literally shot into the world. Again he was surprised at the lack of blood on his son’s skin. There was some but not near as much as he had expected from a birth. “The chord connecting your son,” Ohanzee instructed after listening to the three other wolf spirits. Carefully cut it. Do not pull it. It is tougher than it appears so be careful. When it is severed use the yarn and tie off the end to your son. Quickly now!”
Ohanzee was correct. The cord was far tougher than it looked as Jeremiah started severing it. He was glad he had selected a sharp knife. Once he had the chord tied off he wrapped his son in one of the blankets Ana had knitted in preparation for this event. He was about to hand their son to Ana when she yelled as another contraction hit her.
“It’s normal,” Ohanzee said to him after listening to the three spirit wolves, “She will be expelling his rainbow tent. It is normal.”
“No, no it’s not,” Anabel insisted. “I feel movement!” She sounded frightened as she told Jeremiah, “Hand me my son and guide the other…” She screamed as another contraction hit her.
Jeremiah set their son down on the bed next to his wife after glaring at Ohanzee. He positioned himself where he had been to help his son into the world as the wolves looked at each other in confusion. Jeremiah saw another patch of gray appear just as the first had. As he had just minutes before with his son, Jeremiah carefully guided his daughter into the world.
He repeated cutting and tying the cord of his daughter and carefully wrapped her in another small blanket. It was obvious Ana was waiting impatiently to see both her children. Carefully handing his daughter to Anabel and positioning the newborn at a breast he did the same for his son. When they were both suckling strongly, Ana pulled the blanket away from their heads in order to get a good look at them. Both newborns looked up at her at the same time. She reacted with a gasp, and a mother’s concern, as they pinned her with almond-shaped golden eyes and a head full of wolf gray hair. Ana looked at fingers and toes and was quite relieved they were completely normal.
Jeremiah glared at Ohanzee, “What have you done? What have you done to my children?” he demanded.
“Done? I have done nothing.” The wolf spirit replied snarling, obviously insulted at the accusation. As he finished the three other spirits growled at Ohanzee, looking towards the children. They sat and as Ohanzee snarled at the three spirits menacingly. It was obvious they were waiting for something and were not about to budge. It was equally obvious as spirits, as in life, the females of this tribe were used to having their way and would get it this time too. Ohanzee sighed deeply. He looked at both Ana and Jeremiah, giving in to the unspoken demands made by the three, saying, “This has happened before,” he then looked at the three spirits adding, “Though rarely. There are legends in our tribes about such births, but never with twins. They are called waya-asvnasdi, wolf touched.” He again looked at the spirits sitting near the bed. They were impassive and unmoving as though waiting for more. Ohanzee looked back at the Tanners saying, “It is said they are walkers between worlds.”
Jeremiah interrupted, “Walkers between worlds?” He looked at the three wolves at the foot of the bed then at Ohanzee, “What do you mean?”
Ohanzee took a deep breath and hesitated a second as though searching for a way to answer. It was obvious explaining this lore, especially to whites, was distasteful to him, “You are not of Lakota so it will be difficult to explain. Whites simply do not believe. Walkers between worlds are not human, they are not wolf either, they are both.” He looked at Ana and continued with his explanation, “You can touch wolf spirits, they are drawn to you.” She nodded then he continued, “Walkers between worlds are also able to touch, but…” it was evident Ohanzee was holding back some information, “…much more.” He looked at the thick gray fur on each child’s head and running down their spine, “They can speak to those in both worlds, they are a part of each world. That is why we call them walkers.” He looked at the three spirits watching him carefully and hesitated once again, “They have a foot, or paw, in each world.”
Ana looked into the face of each child suckling on a breast. She looked at the wolf fur on each child, the fur running down their back, the almond-shaped golden eyes that peered back up at her when they paused in feeding. She then accused Ohanzee, “You did this to my babies! You are responsible!”
Ohanzee glared at Ana then turned to face the three spirits still standing at the foot of the bed, “I told you whites would not understand! Their stupidity concerning the spirit world prevents them from seeing truth!” He looked back at Ana, “I had nothing to do with your children being wolf spirits. I only healed your body so you could conceive.” You’re too stupid to know the honor that has been bestowed upon you. It is a wasted gift!” With that he turned and walked out of the cabin, his anger evident in the stiffness of his stride back to the woods.
The three remaining spirits watched Ohanzee stalk off then one of them offered a short snort. Her distaste for his actions evident in that small sound. The gray and white wolf spirit then rounded the end of the bed, placing forepaws on the mattress so her head was at an even level with Ana’s. Ana started for a moment but when the wolf offered no obvious indication of attack she relaxed. The female wolf leaned forward, licking Ana’s forehead then repeating the action with each of the children.
“What’s she doing?” Jeremiah asked nervously and the other two wolves lined up behind the first.
“I believe she is honoring me and the babies,” Ana answered as the first wolf dropped to all four paws and the second wolf repeated the actions of the first. “I believe that if these were human they’d be kissing each of us on the forehead in a show of honor and respect.”
The second wolf had completed the actions and the third took its place, repeating the actions of the others. As the first rounded the end of the bed and headed towards the cabin door it made no sound. It simply looked at Jeremiah as Ana was answering his question and nodded once. It waited for the others and, when all three were together, left through the open door of the cabin. Jeremiah watched them as they too disappeared into the thick woods surrounding their home.
Jeremiah turned and went back to stand beside the bed where his two children were now dozing, having eaten their fill. He smiled at Ana and kissed her lightly. She smiled at him weakly, “We have a problem,” she said matter of factly.
“Ohanzee?” Jeremiah asked as he rubbed the soft fur on first his son’s head, then his daughters.
“No,” Ana smiled, tiredness stealing over her, “We knew he was a problem almost from the beginning.”
“Then what?” Jeremiah asked, watching her face for a clue as to where she was heading.
Ana looked at her sleeping children and then back at Jeremiah. It was obvious she was tired and wanted to sleep too but the smile on her face said her sense of humor was wide awake. “With these two,” she said quietly. “We had picked out only one name and now I’m not sure Joseph fits at all.” As she finished she closed her eyes and was fast asleep. Jeremiah smiled, watching them all sleep, proud of his now larger family.