Reviews and Etiquette and Frustration

One thing I need to get out of the way first.

I love that people review my books. Obviously I love the good ones, because it’s just so damn cool when someone really digs my work, but I’ve even taken to heart more than a few bad ones, and tried to use them as critical analysis for future work. There have been a few outright mean ones from time to time, and those I hate-especially the ones that presume because I write about nasty things that I approve of them-but I’m usually pretty ok with even the truly bad ones. I’ve always managed to avoid commenting on them, both on Amazon and Goodreads, as that sort of fits on with the rules of the dance, but man, yesterday was pretty trying.

Tunnel Vision has gotten a ton of great reviews, from new readers and Aric veterans alike, but there have been a few dingers as well. For a lot of these, they simply hated the language-I swear, sorry-they hated the writing-nothing to be done there-or they hated…something else. Not many people have spelled out what that something else is, but for the few that have, yikes.

Yesterday I got a review that accused me of liberal brainwashing, that claimed that I had an agenda of some sort, and that was why Betty’s moms are married lesbians. Yes, with this one book, I planned to change the way gay culture in America was recognized, I alone would be the standard bearer for gay civil rights, and for gay marriage.


I mean, I do think gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to be married, it seems like a really reasonable thing to me. In fact, it seems so reasonable, that I included it in a book. For those who have read my other works, you know that I always have different family dynamics in my writing, and if anything, Betty’s same-sex-marriage-mothers, are some of the most responsible parents I’ve written about. Yet, this is the first time I’ve ever been called to task for the kind of parents that I’ve written about.

I want to respond to these people very, very badly. I’m not going to, at least not anywhere but here. If I did, however, I’d want them to know that I feel bad for them. They’re the ones that will be alienating future family members and possible friends. They’ll be the ones lingering like an old fart in a room where everyone else has long gotten past the stigma they clutch to. It wasn’t long ago that it was perfectly fine to openly chastise a couple for having a child out of wedlock, or for marrying or dating outside of ones race. For the most part, those days are gone, thankfully, hopefully the stigma over same-sex couple marrying will be soon too.

In some ways, I feel like I’m doing these ignorant folks a lesson by including Betty’s moms in Tunnel Vision. Maybe they’ll tell friends about it, like-minded folks who will give them an odd glance as they leave the room. “Does he really think that?” They’ll wonder, “Is he really that bigoted?” Maybe someone will say something, maybe they won’t. All I know is, my generation was embarrassed when our elders were openly racist, and I know my daughter’s children will be disgusted when they hear some bigot prattle on about the olden days when the gays knew their place.


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18 Responses to Reviews and Etiquette and Frustration

  1. Wes says:

    I can understand your frustration, and think its a good thing you don’t respond to reviews, especially on Amazon. It tends to come across as unprofessional and/or desperate. Count me as a somewhat new fan. I started The Fort earlier this week, then jumped to Breaking Point, Tunnel Vision and am currently reading Rough Men. Your writing style reminds me a bit of Tom Perrotta, only grittier. I had read A Good And Useful Hurt a while back and while it really stuck with me, I didn’t follow up with your other books at the time (so many good books to read, so little time) but I’m glad I finally doubled back. I have a question you may or may not be able to answer about getting my hands on a couple signed copies. I figured before I check all the usual places (Amazon, Ebay, VJbooks) I’d start at the source. I’m not asking for any special favors, but if there’s a way to get my hands on a signed book that would financially benefit you the most, I’d prefer to go that route before looking for one second hand. Keep the great books coming Aric!


  2. mary says:

    Heard you read @ East GR Library and now am a fan and will be reading from your first to your current…………good job young man.

    • admin says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for coming to the event at the EGR library! Public speaking is always a little scary, but I’m glad that you enjoyed listening to me. I hope you enjoy reading some of my stuff!


  3. cheri heppner says:

    I’ve just recently discovered your books, and I am enjoying them very much. I read voraciously, but not mindlessly: I prefer to learn something [anything, I’m not that picky] for the time invested, and I find your books are worth the time.
    About the negative reviews: the only motive for saying “you suck” [in so many words] is the feeling of superiority it provides. That it’s completely unsupported by reality is irrelevant, I guess, because they will keep doing it. But they are wrong – as wrong as some of the characters in your books, the ones with circuits that don’t quite line up & loop properly. I bet they’re the ones who demand libraries remove books they don’t like!
    Keep writing, for yourself and those who appreciate you, and to hell with those who don’t. [See? They make me mad enough to swear too, lol.]

    • admin says:

      Hi Cheri,

      Thanks for stopping by! I tend to agree with you about most truly negative reviews-though certainly folks are allowed to just not like my stuff and then want to warn the world away from it-but I do wonder why some revel in it so much. Some reviewers take an absolute pleasure in scathing coverage, which is just weird to me. I mean, I didn’t kick their dog! Still, it’s a small price to pay for the right to be publish my work, and I’m happy to say that the majority of readers of my work don’t want to see me tarred and feathered just yet.


  4. Bill says:

    About 2 Moms

    In a world that holds so many deep and challenging problems worrying about two people who love each other and their children seems petty and inane.

    The more people like you use these type of families in the popular media as “normal” characters the more people will come to understand and accept that two adults who love each other can be great parents.

    (My wife and I wanted my cousin and his husband to raise our children should we not be able to. They are both great people.)

    Well done Aric, well done!

    • admin says:

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for checking out my work! I couldn’t agree more with your statement, and I too hope that with time will come a well-overdue deeper understanding. I doubt that Tunnel Vision will change many minds, but as long as it’s another brick in the foundation of the changing social normalcy than that’s fine by me.


  5. Marlene Merritt says:

    I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with Nickel Plated. First, that it was your first novel, but second, because it really stuck in in my head. I read a lot, and I’m a bit picky about wanting to read good stuff, and some of the Amazon daily deals are NOT that, but this one was really, really good. Thank you for writing it and for whatever it took to get to that point. Really great job :-)

    • admin says:

      Hi Marlene,

      Thanks! I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading about Nickel, and that it stuck out to you in the sea of other books out there. Writing the novel was a bit difficult-they all are-but it’s always worth it in the end, especially when I get to connect with readers and realize just how real all of this is. Hope you have an awesome day, and thanks again for stopping by.


  6. J says:

    Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a fast reader. I blitzed through Tunnel Vision in three evenings thanks to Kindle First, then circled back for Nickel Plated and ate it up in a day and a half…. and now I despair!

    Nickel’s one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and certainly the most memorable – who couldn’t love the guy? A true survivor, neither paragon nor pariah, a force of nature unto himself.

    Anyway. It’s difficult to ignore the haters – if it weren’t, there wouldn’t be any – but remember that it’s all internal and nothing to do with you. People want to be heard, and spewing bile is the low-hanging fruit of the internet. Having a dissenting opinion in front of a large enough audience is a guarantee that someone will pay attention; it doesn’t matter if the attention is negative.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    • admin says:

      Hi J,

      Thanks so much for giving my writing a chance, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the exploits of Nickel! I really appreciate the kind words, and I definitely agree with you. Still, it’s worth a few negative comments for the chance to widen my reading audience, and to get kind correspondence like this. Hope you have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.


  7. Megan says:

    Hi Aric,

    Just wanted to give you a shout out for Nickel Plated and Tunnel Vision. I read both of these in quick succession and really enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to checking out your other work, but am also curious as to whether you plan on writing another Nickel-focused book. He’s such a great character—so full of heart and tenacity.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us. It’s nice to take chances on books and wind up loving them.


    • admin says:

      Hi Megan,

      Thank you so much for checking out my work, I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I do plan on writing more stories about Nickel, but it’s going to be a little while. I’m currently finishing up the tail end of a series about telekinetic folks called the Moirai Trilogy, the first of which is going to be released in July, and that should make up the bulk of my next few releases. Ideally once those are done I will go back to some crime fiction, but whether or not those are Nickel books remains to be seen. All I can say is that eventually I do plan to get back to him at some point. Thanks so much for stopping by!


  8. Jeanne says:

    As a reviewer, I’m usually glad to see that a novelist can hold back from defending himself against real-life criticisms of fictional situations. There are lots of idiots talking on the internets. Keep writing.

  9. Matt says:

    I just finished reading Tunnel Vision, Nickel Plated, The Fort, and Breaking Point this past week and I wandered on to this site to see if there might be news on when you’d be creating more of Nickel’s story. As much as I’ve enjoyed all of your books so far, the Nickel character is a one I can’t wait to read more about. That said, the Moirai Trilogy sounds awesome too so I’ll look forward to reading that when it’s published.

    I’m truly impressed by your restraint on the Tunnel Vision reviews… at least the ones on Amazon had to be some of the most off target, off base, off their rocker reviews of any I’ve read in a long time.

    In any case, great writing, great restraint… I can’t wait to read more of your work (and ideally more of Nickel’s story) in the future.

    • admin says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed Nickel’s adventures, and I must admit, I think you’ll really enjoy The Moirai Trilogy as well. As for Nickel, well, it’s going to be a little while. First off, there’s the aforementioned Moirai books, there’s another novel and novella with my publisher, and I’m hard at work on something else. The issue is never going to be about me wanting to write about Nickel-I love the little guy-the issue is always going to be what my publisher wants to work with, and Nickel can be a hard sell.

      Now, the good news is that I know there will eventually be more Nickel, the bad news is that I have no idea when that might be. Sorry I don’t have a more definitive answer, but the truth really is that simple. I appreciate you checking out my work, and the second I know more about future Nickel works, my readers will be the first to know. Thanks again for stopping by, and being so nice about some of those twisted-knickers types.


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