I received more lovely artwork reminiscent of The Howling Heart from my reader Ann who lives in Poland. She doesn’t create the art herself, but she sends me photos from other artists. The last photo Ann sent me had an unknown artist, but this one was created by Kay Igler. Both photos represent Riley’s ancestors Erik & Anya. I like this one because it looks like Anya is being protective of Erik. Maybe she heard hunters coming. Ann said she’s still looking for artwork that could represent Riley & Paige. She mentioned I should write a prequel to The Howling Heart centered around Erik and Anya, and about the beginnings of Varulv in Scandinavia. It would make an interesting story, but I’m not writing another novel. I’m sorry Ann, but thank you for sending me such beautiful artwork. I think you’re very kind and I’m happy you enjoyed The Howling Heart so much.
This is my second author commentary where I’ll address specific reader concerns or critiques. People are entitled to their opinions, but when I feel they’re wrong about my book, then I like to respond. I wanted to talk about why my book is indeed an adult romance despite some readers’ opinions to the contrary. First, I think it’s an absurd claim my book is Young Adult. I don’t read them and I don’t write them. Maybe it’s my book cover. The model on the cover, Lucas Buchwald, was 20-22 years old in the photograph. He represents Tristan, who was 23 when he met Bridget in chapter one. Lucas fits the character’s age range. If he looks younger, then blame his genetics. He’s not a teenager. A lot of young women today are attracted to the clean-shaven, non-threatening, good-looking, Abercrombie & Fitch-type of young man. That’s why I chose Lucas for the cover. Tristan may be a bad boy, but he’s a pretty boy too.
When an author describes sex in a very graphic and explicit manner in their book, it’s not Young Adult. Editors don’t consider that type of content suitable for the YA genre. I’ve noticed people tagging A Rose to the Fallen under “Teen” and “Young Adult”. I suspect the people referring to my book as Young Adult didn’t actually read the story or have a misinformed understanding of what constitutes a Young Adult novel. It doesn’t matter how juvenile the characters’ dialogue may sound or if you think my writing style is not sophisticated. The level of sexual content in my book does not allow for it to be classified as Young Adult.
I removed my second novel The Howling Heart from FictionPress. The story was online since July 2009. After 17 months and a disappointing low review count, I decided it’s time to take it down. Some FictionPress users made my story a favorite because I received email alerts every time someone did. But the majority of my readers (whether they made the story a favorite or not) didn’t leave reviews. The lack of reviews didn’t help The Howling Heart at all. FictionPress visitors can’t see how many people “favorited” a story, they can only see reviews. Stories with high review counts attract more potential readers. The only gratification I got from my experience sharing The Howling Heart was I never received a negative review and FictionPress has a reputation for its highly critical reviewers. That’s one of the reasons I hosted my story there. I wanted honest feedback. Every person who took the time to leave a review or send me an email said something positive about the story. I can’t say the same for my first novel A Rose to the Fallen.
If I find any PDF’s or e-books for The Howling Heart on the web, I will try to have them removed. I’ve noticed the story is being searched on torrent sites. I don’t appreciate people taking it upon themselves to create e-books for my story without my permission, especially now that it’s offline.
In retrospect, I wish I had never shared The Howling Heart for free. I should’ve kept the manuscript to myself until I felt like publishing it as a book. I can’t turn back time, but I can go forward with my life much wiser. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about sharing stories for free. I don’t have immediate plans to publish The Howling Heart because I don’t feel like dealing with the stress and frustration of publishing right now. Perhaps in the future I’ll try to publish it. Now that the story is gone, I updated my FAQ’s for any visitors who come here looking for it.