The Magic Hour

Authors have mixed feelings about reviews. A good one can make you feel as if you’re on top of the world. A bad one ruins your day. At least, that’s how it is when you’re starting out and trying to build a career. When you’ve been around for awhile—in other words, if you’re an old geezer like me—you look for something else.

I want to see if the reviewer understands what I’m trying to accomplish. Frequently, a reviewer gets side-tracked, making a big deal out of a minor issue. Another dead-end is when the reviewer calls me to account for not writing the book the way he or she would have written it. I can’t help that. I have to tell my story, not yours.

On the other hand, when a reviewer gets it right, I’m elated. Yes! You understand! Even if the reviewer isn’t crazy about what I’ve done, the criticism is valid and worthwhile. It helps me grow as a writer. I’m not perfect. Even though I’ve been writing for close to fifty years, I still have plenty to learn.

Just this morning I came across this review posted a month ago in Leah Biado-Luis’s blog, The Magic Hour. Leah reviewed my version of Medio Pollito, a book published last year. The original Spanish version of Medio Pollito is a brutal tale. The poor half-chick, a selfish character, is drowned, burned, and hung up on the top of the steeple forever. The story always reminded me of the way criminals were treated in the Middle Ages: hanged, burned, chopped up, and stuck on spikes on bridges and city gates as a warning to others. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where the story’s inspiration lay.)

When my editor, Margery Cuyler, suggested I write a version of the story, I told her it wasn’t one of my favorites. The only way I’d even attempt it was if I could do it my way. Margery is always supportive. “Go ahead!” she said. That’s why my version is less about punishment and more about overcoming disabilities. You can do anything if you take it one step at a time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a half-chick. What counts is having a whole heart. And the world is an exciting place. Why spend your life in a farmyard?

Yes! Leah gets it. She understand what I was trying to do with the story. Her kind words made my day. Here’s the review so you can read it yourself. Click HERE.

Even better, click HERE and you can order your own copy. I’ll even read you the story while you enjoy Valeria DoCampo’s illustrations. Click HERE.

Happy reading!

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