I got my first bad (two star) review today

Sumiko screaming

The author… simulating a response to a bad review.

Here is the text of the two-star review:


Too much, October 15, 2013

By  Philonese Simmons

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: The Moon Cried Blood (Kindle Edition)

I read over 200 pages and this book had too much in it, but never seemed to get to the actual story. It was very confusing with all the Letricia characters, all their relatives and fosters and histories of everyone, especially without knowing why you needed to know all of that. And why did we need to know the lay out of the apartment? Where all the furniture was and the colors what was that for. If all that information was important to the point of the story, I never got to it and if it was it made me not care what the point was.”

Since the writer asked a specific set of questions regarding the furniture and the apartment, I decided to answer her questions. Being an author who has only sold about 500 books in total, I’m still very excited just to know that some read one of my books – or, in this case, a bit less than half of my book (The Moon Cried Blood is a bit over 500 pages.) Here is my answer:

“Sumiko Saulson says:

Thank you for your honest review and opinion. Since you asked a question (about the apartment lay out and the furniture) I thought I’d answer it: There are three reasons why I described the apartment in such detail:

1) The novel is set in the mid-1970s, and I sought to improve the verisimilitude of the piece by describing everyday objects of the period. The furniture and furniture colors in the apartment were very popular, and contemporary, in the 1970s but today they would be considered out of style or maybe “retro.” The apartment’s appearance also tells the reader something about the character Bridget or “Jet” who decorated the apartment: she was very trendy and tried to keep up with the latest styles.

2) The discussion of furniture (overall, in this piece) is an homage (or nod to) the gothic era horror novels, which were so named because they made frequent reference to the gothic architecture.

3) Directionality (east, west, north, south) are important to the story.

I realize this probably won’t change how you feel, and I am okay with the fact that you did not particularly care for my book. I just wanted to give your question an answer. Have a nice day.”

Here is the three star review:

Here is the earlier (mediocre, not bad) review and my response to it. I decided to respond today: I did not when it was originally posted. The thing about the three-star review is, it is very well thought out, and accordingly, useful to me as a writer. It gave me some pretty good ideas.

 Yes! The Title and Story Match!, May 19, 2013


Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: The Moon Cried Blood (Kindle Edition)

I read this book because the premise appealed to me. Who wouldn’t be enticed by the promise of a good folklore/myth played out between man, animal, and nature? And true enough, the initial chapters were as captivating as the premise but as I continued with the story, I grew impatient and confused. Even though the author attempted to help the reader keep the similar-sounding names and family lines straight by filtering and layering in information, that didn’t help. I found myself lost in a maze of characters who did not stand out strong enough for me to latch on to. I kept having to recite relationships in my head and at one point actually thought about drawing a family tree. But that’s too much work for a fiction novel. For me, one of the goals of fiction is to entertain. Perhaps if the author had done more “showing” of the story instead of “telling,” the story would have been easier to follow. Also, I think it would have helped me stay engaged if the author had tackled one generation at a time instead of throwing in the entire kitchen sink (the psychic abilities, the myth, the types of wolves, etc.) in one fell swoop. Or, if not one generation at a time at least reduce the number of generations. The author packed a lot in this story–too much. There were however some strong themes that played throughout: good versus evil, the importance of family, redemption, and more. Unfortunately, the contrived actions and coincidental outcomes did little to underscore these themes. What did I like? I think the author is quite imaginative and her research seems impeccable. I also enjoyed the revisit to the ’70s, a period of time I don’t read enough of. Plus, it thrills me to match a title with the story. I’m surprised at how many books don’t marry the two. A friend asked me if I would read another book by this author and I said, “maybe.” My “maybe” lies in the fact that the author is very creative and as Toni Morrison said (paraphrased), writers improve with every writing. And I do think this writer will.

And here is my response:


Sumiko Saulson says:

Thank you for your honest and instructive review. It is helpful to me as a writer: this story is complete, but I will certainly keep this in mind moving forward. I probably will add a family tree appendix to the story, I think that’s a good idea. Perphaps this heavy tome would have worked better as a two-part series: it is 500 odd pages long, which is twice as long as my shortest book, and it’s received the most mixed reviews. That is worth thinking about for the future, in case I ever decide to revisit the story. In two books, it could tie up two different stories with two different generational foci. That could be interesting, and would address some of the issues people have with the pacing.

The naming conventions were supposed to be a comment on patrilineal naming conventions, where a family has sons and grandsons named John Doe, John Doe Jr., John Doe III, etc. and they all have different nicknames: John, Jack, Jay, etc. It was supposed to underscore the matrilineal conventions of the family in the story, but if it was becoming so burdensome that it takes away from the action of the story, that is problematic.

I am currently writing a sequel to my first book, “Solitude,” but I am seriously considering a revisiting TMCB when that is over with.

See for yourself and draw your own conclusions:

ImageIf the reviews are any indication, TMCB is the most polarizing of my works. Some people love it, and some people have issues with the naming conventions and the pacing. The specific pacing issue seems to be with areas where there is too much exposition. I am taking this feedback seriously (especially the three star review, which makes some really good points) and I am going to break the book into two and add some more action to make it more interesting.

In honor of this bad review, I am going to put The Moon Cried Blood up on promo at Amazon.com so you, dear reader, can draw your own conclusions.  I am honestly interested in hearing your feedback on this, the long, involved story: especially feedback that will help me change the book into a two book series. Perhaps you will like it just the way it is: several readers did. I am intrigued by the mixed reviews, and I wonder what you’ll think.

It will be available for free all day on Sunday, October 27 my time (Pacific Standard Time) starting at midnight tonight.  You can get it here:


No Kindle? No problem! Get a free Kindle reader app for your PC, Mac, smart phone or tablet here:


~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 26, 2013.

3 Responses to “I got my first bad (two star) review today”

  1. I haven’t got a bad review for either my novella ‘One for the Road’ or the horror novel ‘Farm House’ as of yet…but I am always prepared…lolz
    I suppose any feedback is fine and not everyone is going to click with the story…hehe

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