A writer always worries. When I publish, I wonder if anyone could possibly love the babies of my imagination as much as I do. I’m a more like a sea turtle who abandons her offspring to stagger into the ocean on their own than a watchful protective mother duck, but I am a book mama.
I do care. A lot.
Yesterday I tossed my latest story into the cold waters of the world. Not many survived the hatch (by which I mean “not many sales,” I do love to stretch an analogy) but at least a few babies have found loving, happy homes. Here are the first four reviews for Lockdown, in order received.
An emotional roller coaster ride
There are three things that will push me to give a written work a high rating; outstanding and original use of language (think William Shakespeare), painting vivid imagery with words (H. P. Lovecraft), and most commonly, bringing to life believable characters and provoking emotional responses. This story does the later. Right out of the gate I sympathized with Elena, the story’s heroine, and felt real anger toward her father. But wait, as the story unfolds, that reaction reverses. Elena shows real human flaws and grows up over the course of the tale, partly due to sergeant Cody. Now Cody provoked a very strong emotional response from me. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, and Cody personifies what it really means to be a Marine, and that always surprises me when I see it in fiction by authors that have never been Marines. This author nailed it on the head. I’m a big fan of KM Herkes’ work, and the Rough Passages stories are my favorites (Oi! Novel!), and this is an excellent addition. Highly recommended.
In this comparatively short story KM Herkes has invented a world that is similar to this one, yet believably different. The story draws you in immediately. The author’s expressive way of writing made me want to know more about this strange world that Elena lives in, and the way the girl is portrayed made me care about what will happen to her – and I have read a fair few books where, after the first chapter or so I really haven’t cared about them at all. It’s a knack that some writers have and others strive for.
As the story progresses, the author unveils that Elena has more courage than she has ever realised. She likes the marines she was talking to, so when one of them saves her life without even thinking about it, she realises that, underneath the altered exteriors, humanity still exists in them, so she then does a very brave thing.
This is a story about humanity, friendship and the fears that lie behind mans’ inhumanity to man. I found myself empathising with the main character, and sympathising with the ‘monsters’. I also love the way that the author ties up the ending (which I will not spoil here!)
Do yourself a favour, buy it.
Teen story that adults will enjoy
In Lockdown, Herkes returns to the world where super-hero powers appear in mid-life. What makes this short story so enjoyable to me is that it is told through the eyes of young teens. Experiences and expectations of their parents (whether based on fact, fear, or supposition), and the disruption to home life that parents with powers can create, naturally color the teens’ views. I’ve read a lot of teen fiction, and I would have to say that Herkes’ story ranks up there with the best for reminding us of what it is like to be a teen: navigating friendships, respectfully interacting with parents and other authority figures even when it’s hard, and developing one’s own ideas about the world. It’s a challenging time of life emotionally and psychologically, and not all authors can create teen characters who are true to life while still being people I want to spend time getting to know. The main character here, Elena, is just delightful, and the fully fleshed out supporting cast (teen and adult) are engaging and realistic. I enjoy Herkes’ writing because she does a great job of creating her worlds, and this is one I would like to explore more from Elena’s point of view. And you should explore it, too. Just be ready for it to be over far too quickly and to leave you longing for more.
Rough Passages is a great series. I love how each story is written to be read independently, but the more you read, the bigger the world becomes. Most of the stories are from the point of view of adults experiencing rollover, the transformation that happens to some when they hit middle age. This one is from the point of view of the young daughter of such an adult, and deals with her fears for her own future. Herkes’s characterization is top notch, and her plots for this series always keep me turning pages. Here’s to many more!
Letters to warm a worried mama’s heart. Lest you think my head is swelling with pride, I can assure you that not all the responses to my stories are positive. Problem is, I have yet to convince anyone to share those concerns and valid criticisms online. I don’t blindly. I know my stories aren’t for everyone. I drop readers into my worlds much like I drop my story-babies into the publishing seas. Bloop. Immersion with minimal explanation is not a comfortable or enjoyable reading experience for everyone, nor do I expect it to be.
Variety is good. There should be words of all kinds in the world. That’s why I’m committed to continuing this publishing adventure. If I’ve tempted you at all, if you’ve made it this far into my self-congratulatory, back-patting party, here’s a link to Lockdown itself and to my Amazon author page, where you’ll find the rest of the stories in the Rough Passages collection. If you click “follow” on the author page, you even get updates when I put out new stories. Convenient for everyone!