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The Mating by: Nicky Charles

May 13, 2010

I really wanted to love this book. I got it free from Feedbooks. (It’s also available at Smashwords.) And yes, this book was given free by the author. I think the author has a lot of potential but isn’t quite ready for prime time. There are several issues that create problems for this book.

The Mating is a werewolf story. Elise thinks she’s in love with Bryan, one of her pack mates. But her father, forms a political alliance and marries her off to a neighboring pack’s alpha, Kane, for the good of the pack. Elise of course has to work through her feelings and get to know Kane and at the same time there are troubles for the pack, an oil company wanting to drill on their land, and a conniving she-wolf, Marla, who seems to want to take Kane. Since Elise and Kane are only formally mated (Like a marriage ceremony and having consummated that ceremony) but not blood bonded (mystical connection through a shared bite), there is some risk to their relationship.

Bad Points:

1. Too many editing issues. There were a lot of situations where the book left out words or repeated words and it got to be irksome.

2. Too long. This book is over 100,000 words. And it could have stood to have at least 20-30k cut from it. There were a lot of long thoughtologues and a lot of redundancy. It was as if the author didn’t trust that the reader was smart enough to know where she was going with things. As a result…

3. The ending was telegraphed WAY before we got there. I’m not sure how much was meant as a surprise and how much wasn’t. But none of it really was. I pretty much figured from the very beginning who was the bad guy and who wasn’t, even though ostensibly I wasn’t supposed to catch on.

4. Too much minutiae. I honestly don’t care about preparations for dinner, or showering or any of the other little details. Unless it’s actually important to the story. Beginning writers often have an issue where they feel the need to tell every single little thing the character does, no matter how mundane. And then they use those mundane times as excuses to give us long thoughtologues. So there was a lot of telling rather than showing.

5. Once I got halfway through the book, I was so irritated by how it was just dragging on and on, that I started skimming the rest of the way to the end.

Good Points:

1. Sex scenes were fairly well-crafted.

2. Characters that were supposed to be likable were likable.

3. The author created a detailed world. (maybe a little too detailed.)

4. Overall it’s a good story. It just needed more editing, particularly a lot of cutting out of redundant scenes and long thoughtologues.

Most authors really cannot sustain a super long narrative and do it effectively. This is true in NY publishing as well. I’ve read my share of NY published books that just went on and on about stuff giving me all kinds of crap I don’t care about. I’m guessing the author was writing to a word count and was padding out past their natural writing length.

Indie authors do not have that excuse. You can make your book as long or as short as you want as an indie. The number one rule of fiction is “don’t be boring.” No matter what anyone else says about this or that rule or thing you must or must not do, any rule can be broken if the author can pull it off, except the boring rule. There were many points in this book in which I was bored due to the fact that it just dragged on too long.

My advice to the author would be to learn to trust that the reader can follow the plot and get on with it. Get to the meat. Don’t meander. We don’t need more books that dumb everything down for those who can’t keep up.

I give this book 1 cookie but would consider reading another book by this author if it was much shorter and got to and stuck to the point.

FTC Disclosure: I found this book available free (legally free). Author did not contact me. I did not pay money for it.

Note: Due to the author’s reaction to this review, I’ve decided to forego further opportunities to review her other books. What we each consider “good” in a book is wildly different. I had cut the author slack because it was a first attempt and I can appreciate that first books are a little rough. However, it seems clear that the author intends to continue in this vein of describing every meal preparation scene, every shower scene, every knothole in the floor, etc. There is a good, detailed story, and then there is overwriting. Unfortunately we disagree on which category The Mating falls into.

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6 Comments
  1. Nicky permalink
    May 13, 2010 9:11 pm

    Hi!

    I am the author of the book and appreciate your thoughtful comments, though I don’t agree with all of them, of course! I’m glad you liked the sex-scenes, enjoyed the characters, found the ‘world’ to be real etc.

    Not sure I understand your aversion to details. When I read, I create a ‘movie’ in my mind of what is going on, and the action tags (i.e. what they are making for dinner) flesh out the scene. Otherwise you just have a bunch of dialogue and little bursts of actions. Personally, I hate those kind of books and want to actually see, feel and hear the story as I read. But, too each their own!

    Too many thought-a-logues. Tehe – I’ve never heard the term before. Cute. Again, personal opinion, I guess.

    Redundent scenes…such as? Give me examples please so I can consider what you mean. To me they were all important.

    Yes, you were to know who the villian was early on. The only mystery was to be if there was more than one villian or not and the real reason for the problem which isn’t unrequited love, as many suspect. It was the relationship between Kane and Elise and where it was going that was to be the central focus – the rest: side stories.

    Editing – yes could probably be better. I had 4 people read it over for me and, since I also work full time, I don’t think it is too bad. Would I like it to be perfect? Yes! Will it ever be? Not likely, but it is free so….. BTW, could you please tell me where a few of the problem are so I can go back and fix them?

    Was I writing to a word count? No. I was writing what I thought needed to be written!

    You’d try another book by me? Yay! I have another one out called Forever In Time. It’s not as long and more of a stalker- mystery – definitley not telegraphed but I’ll warn you, it was my first story, so the editing will probably bug you. I’m also writng the sequel to The Mating, called The Keeping. It will be similar in style with what you consider too much detail and thoughtalogues but, if you want to give it a try, it should be finished by June

    Nicky Charles

    • cookiemama28 permalink*
      May 16, 2010 11:15 am

      Hi Nicky! Glad that you found us at A Taste For EBooks.

      I want to start off by saying that I haven’t read your book. I’ve read through Sweet’s review and your comment. So for explanation I will throw out that over reading numbers of books together, analyzing, and discussing, I tend to know that when Sweet puts forth comments like these, she’s usually putting my own observations into words for me and I get where she’s coming from. But still, haven’t read it, and that’s where you’ll want to take what I have to say with the grain of salt it deserves, I’m sure.

      You get max kudos for the tone of your response. We rub virtual elbows with enough writers to know that it’s HARD enough to put something out there, let alone to get a review that doesn’t praise it. Sadly, a number of NY-pubbed authors have been seriously lacking in the kind of class you showed in your comment. Still, I need to tell you that debating a review is a dicey proposition. As you move forward in your career, which I hope you will because it sounds like you have promise, that’s something that will cause a lot of people to label you as “unprofessional”.

      You’re asking for guidance in your writing–that you’re willing to look for it is good. This, however, is not the place. That’s not our purpose at ATFE, and generally readers who review just want to read as much as they can. They’re not in the writers’-clinic business, nor are they really qualified for that.

      One of the things that separates the Indie author from the NY-pubbed writer is vetting–that process by which authors who aren’t ready are weeded out and never see the light of day. And I’m pretty sure that’s what Sweet meant by “not ready for prime-time”, that you’ve got some honing of your craft and polishing of your work to do before it reaches the level of quality that would get it accepted by a NY publisher.

      That’s the same level that we’re looking for. Sometimes that makes us tough on books, but we believe that Indie authors of that caliber are out there and coming up. Readers deserve good reads, and there plain should not be excuses for errors in editing like “I have a full-time job”. “Not too bad” is not good enough. “It is free so…” I see where you’re coming from, but this is your work, the vehicle you use to present yourself as a writer. I think, going forward, that you’re going to want to show more respect for your craft than to make excuses for errors in editing and formatting.

      It sounds like you need better vetting, that is, a more qualified set of people to help you judge the quality of your work, as well as work with you on the copy-editing aspects. You want to find someone whose work you respect, and who will be HARD on you, yet without crushing your spirit. Those people are hard to find, and it takes time to build that kind of trusting relationship and honesty. Many of these relationships fail early on because the writer tends to argue with the points raised by the critiquer (probably not a word). You never need to argue. If the point is raised, it means you failed there with that reader. If you need to get a second opinion, fine. But anytime you find yourself explaining or debating, you’ve already failed to do your job.

      This reply is already over-long and is now about to stray into the clinic portion for which Sweet and Saucy are going to give me the stink-eye as I give you these two tips to get you started:

      1. With regard to the details: in ruthless, evil editor mode, read through this story and highlight all the details of setting (including those that are useless character actions) that don’t directly pertain to the story. Just yank them out. Understand that the incredibly detailed written world belongs to a style most readers won’t tolerate in today’s fast-paced, media-rich environment. They have too many things they want to experience and too little time. Add back a smattering of details to give a sense of where they are. Stop painting the full picture. Start sketching and highlight the important stuff.

      2. With regard to the redundancy/thoughologues issue: again, in full evil mode, go through the work, making note of all the thoughts and musings. Categorize them like… all the thoughts by the heroine about ____ part of her backstory are pink, for example. Then look through again and see how many times the heroine thought about that part of her past. More than a few times and it starts to feel like a blunt instrument in the reader’s skull. Readers are smart and catch on fast. Don’t forget.

      If you’re willing to take on these tasks, I’d say you’re well on your way. Good luck to you.
      ~Cookie

  2. Nicky permalink
    May 16, 2010 12:55 pm

    Hey! Thanks for your kind reply. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make a debate, just expressing my opinion as Sweet Tart expressed hers. I could have given myself a review under an assumed name and expressed my thoughts that way, but that’s not really honest is it? So I replied ‘in person.’ Didn’t mean to be unprofessional – not that I am a professional! This is just my hobby to amuse myself and I have no real desire to become professional as it would suck all the fun out.

    Re: editing. It cost .03 per word at Wordclay to have your work edited. That means The Mating would have cost me mega $$ and it would no longer be free. It I have to charge for it, we get into messy things like income tax – yuck! Some day I will go back and re-edit it but it won’t be for awhile. Maybe when I retire in a few years.

    Details – Yes (sigh) in today’s fast paced world very few people appreciate the value of a well described scene. Current books, IMHO, are often written with too few details. We have no real idea of the setting, what the characters look like, the people around them. It’s all just faceless people, anonymous places…(heavy sigh again.) The quality of much of today’s literature is going steadily downhill. Quite frankly I can’t see much of it being studied in school as examples of ‘setting the scene’ or foreshadowing, irony, personification etc etc. It’s ‘fast food’ for the mind.

    My personal taste is to savour a story like a 7 course meal, to appreciate the blend of spices and textures and colours. I know – I’m a dying breed!

    Thanks for your suggestions. I will consider them. It’s always nice when someone gives a review with constructive suggestions as well as criticisms. Too many reviewers who dislike a story never do that. (I’ve had a few who hate The Mating, but many who gave it 4 or 5 stars – about 15,000 downloads and 25 good reviews.)

    Well, let’s end out little discussion now. Best wishes in your ‘e-book’ reviewing enterprise.

    Sincerely,
    Nicky Charles

  3. Kris permalink
    June 27, 2010 3:08 pm

    I am not a writer, I just happened to stumble across this site and found the comments interesting. Personally I loved your book, I very much enjoy when a writer actually cares enough to go into detail, because, like you, I play a movie in my head as I read a book. To be honest, I was so engrossed in your book, I read it in a day. I just couldn’t put it down. Then I restarted it the next day and paced myself so that I could soak it all in. I was so happy to hear that you are writing a sequel, especially since you said that it will be out this month. I am truly looking forward to it. All in all I just wanted to commend you on your work and to tell you that I enjoyed you book.

  4. Kris permalink
    June 27, 2010 3:11 pm

    I am sorry to bother you again but I was wondering how I might find out when “The Keeping” is available? Do I just continue to check this site or is there another site to look on?

    • Nicky permalink
      July 2, 2010 4:48 pm

      Why, thank you Kris!
      It’s always nice to meet another reader who appreciates a detailed tale! The Mating has been doing extremely well in the ratings so I guess we aren’t totally alone.
      The Keeping (sequel) will be out end of July (crossing fingers) I only have a few chapters left to write (real life got in the way and slowed down my writing pace), then I’ll run it past my friends and it will become public. It will also be free, just like Mating! You should be able to find it at Feedbooks, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo…same places you can find the Mating. Just keep checking in at those sites and search my name.
      Thanks again for your kind comments,
      Nicky Charles

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