I’m certain most writers and readers alike are thinking: “Is she insane? Why is she celebrating her first one star review?” Well, my reasons are several-fold, and I’ll do my level best to explain.
First, let me be clear. I am not apologizing for writing what ninety plus reviewers and several thousand readers have enjoyed. It would be like cutting off my nose to spite my face. They paid for a product that brought them enough joy to write a positive review to show their appreciation—many of whom had never written reviews before. This honored me to no end because it was then I realized that despite its flaws, this story resonated with some people, and for that I’m truly grateful. I hope I continue to earn your praise and respect as I add to my body of work.
Writing this parody of the most famous or infamous trilogy in the market today was totally risky on my part. I took the first book of Fifty Shades of Grey and put a humorous, ethnic twist on it. Having dreamed this story up because so many others were putting their unique spins on the 50Shades phenomenon, I was like, what if Ana Steele had been a sistah? How would a strong, black or bi-racial woman handle such an indecent proposal, if you will?
Mind you, I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that I would enter the fray and emerge completely unscathed. I read some of E. L. James’ less-than-complimentary reviews. I knew that people would love or hate my mimicry of it. However, when my Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever was released, after it was judged un-read by some Mean Girl reviewers on GoodReads, it enjoyed a two-month honeymoon stage on Amazon, complete with a run of ninety-plus four- and five-star reviews, and my own version of the “bunker babes,” through several book clubs that have embraced me.
As the days ticked away, and the story was heaped with praise, I kept wondering in the back of my mind, “when is the other shoe going to drop?” Well, it finally dropped today, January 4, 2013, in the form of a one-star review from a reviewer who declared it was so bad, she couldn’t finish reading it. LOL! Don’t you just love it?
To be honest, I wish it had been a reviewer who’d read the whole thing to give me my first one-star, so I could be proud of it. Like people who earn their first dollar in their new business, I wanted to frame that sucker and put it on my wall! I wanted to get something meaningful from an honest critique, so I can work toward improving in my next book, but this review didn’t bring me that. Oh well, there’s always the next one.
What that review did bring me is the experience of breaking that run of praise and accolades that I’m exceedingly thankful for, yet, I needed to see broken, if only for the simple fact that I know the story isn’t perfect. I intentionally made it a novella, and I took short cuts, because I wanted to see if the story was viable. I edited the first draft myself and it showed! Mind you, I’ve gone back and had an editor go over it, but there still may be some grammar and punctuation issues there, some telling and not showing, because I gave it the final once-over (accepted and rejected her efforts), and I’m sure I missed some other things.
My first story was never destined to be classic literature, and I got that from the beginning. It exists for readers’ entertainment pleasure. Period. End of story. This was my debut into the fiction writing world, for better or worse, and I had no aspersions that it would be the darling of the literary world, but I hoped it would find a niche. And find one (or four), it did. The burgeoning genre of Interracial Romance, the fertile genre of African American literature, the spicy genres of Urban, Multiracial and Erotic Romance, all embraced Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever for the parody it is, together with its unique twist on the original story.
One thing my readers have requested enough times, that I truly want to honor, is the call to give Keisha and Tristan their own unique world in which to be alive and thrive, or to crash and burn. You have asked for an original story for them, so with book two of the quadrilogy I am endeavoring to give you just that. It will be a total departure from its parodied counterpart. It will not be Fifty Shades Blacker to parody Fifty Shades Darker, and books three and four will be Jada and Nate’s story, so no precedent to derail there.
So, I’m celebrating my first one star review because I know, definitively, this is not the last one-star review I will ever receive for this story, or in my life. Even authors of classic literature and veteran contemporary authors have gotten less-than-stellar reviews, so who am I to think I won’t?
This was my maiden voyage as an author; I knew it would be fraught with the choppy seas that all new writers have to traverse. I have dues to pay. I have more craft to learn. I have to create a strong body of work so I won’t be a flash-in-the-pan, or a one-hit-wonder. So, the ante is way up there when I release my sophomore offering. I know this. I only hope with every fiber of my being that I will be up for the challenge.