One of the trickiest things about being a professional author is reviews. Not that getting them is necessarily tricky – there’s no trick other than sheer luck and a whole lot of prayers – but sometimes you want to reach through your computer screen and either hug or throttle whoever wrote them.
(If you’re lucky, it’s more hugging than throttling, though I suspect even J.K. Rowling has wanted to throttle a reviewer or two.)
Most of the time, I land firmly on the hugging side. With a side of chocolate cake, because everything is better with chocolate cake, positive and negative reviews both. (You can consider the chocolate cake either reward or apology, depending on the review.)
The general rule of thumb, though, is not to respond. Ever. Which makes some sense… I mean, the reviews you find on Amazon or Goodreads or any of the review sites aren’t really meant for the author. They’re meant for other readers, to help them determine whether or not they want to read the book in question. Sure, I love to read them… but reviewers aren’t thinking about me when they write them.
And that’s cool. I get it. I’ve been on the other side of the fence, reading reviews to get a better sense of how people (and therefore, I) will like a story. I still do that, though it’s not the end-all-be-all of my decision-making process when it comes to what to read.
Sometimes, though, there’s a review I’m just dying to respond to, general rule of thumb be damned. Mostly it’s because the reviewer asked a question, and I… I’m just enough of a Ravenclaw that I’m desperate to answer it.
Such is the case with a review received last week. The funny thing is… the questions this reviewer posed are actually questions I’d been discussing with one of my ARC readers, based on her recent review of The Omega Nanny. And I think she makes a very valid point (I have yet to have a single review, positive or negative, which didn’t raise at least one) that I don’t really do much explaining of the Omegaverse in my books.
Part of that is because I’m very used to not having to explain. And part of that is because – well, to put it bluntly, I didn’t really want to have a long explanatory thing in the book, because that can really disrupt the flow. We’ve all read books where the author stops the action to explain some cultural tidbit. It’s interesting, maybe, but how many of us actually sit and read them, and how many of us start skipping paragraphs until we’re back at the story?
(Okay, I read them. 90% of the time. But, again, Ravenclaw.)
I’ve also never much cared for a world so detailed that the author felt the need to have to explain it via webpages and diagrams and graphs and charts. If you can’t write the world well enough to make me understand enough of it simply by reading your book – you are not doing your job thoroughly.
It would seem that I’m not doing my job thoroughly. And that’s on me to fix. It’s not that the Omegaverse is complicated – I don’t really think it is – but it is different from our own world, and that of other paranormal books which incorporate alphas and omegas. I’m beginning to think that some additional explanation/expository is necessary, more than what I’ve been doing.
So I’m going to work on that. The Country Alpha is already going to incorporate more world-building in it – the story is demanding it, actually, as I advance Ethan and Antonio’s life together, as well as the obstacles faced by Jake, Veronica, and Ned – but I’ll strive to explain things a little more than I have previously.
But back to the review I’d like to answer. Amazon won’t let me answer as Penelope – which is majorly annoying, and I’m not sure the reviewer knows that you can ask authors questions on Goodreads. So I’m going to post it here, and hope someone will let her know to look here.
Penelope, how do male omegas feed their babies?
Yep! It seems strange, but it’s true – men can lactate. Okay, it wouldn’t be easy to turn that into full breastfeeding capability, and apart from Dustin Hoffman, I don’t think most men are into trying, but it’s possible. I mean, think about it – they have all the right parts (nipples, mammory glands, etc), they just don’t generally lactate or grow breasts like women do. (For what it’s worth – I don’t think omega males in the Omegaverse grow breasts, either, though I do think their chests probably swell after giving birth. But this is my own headcanon and may not apply to other authors’ visions of the Omegaverse.)
And yes – I think a male omega would be able to supply all the milk a baby needs. A person’s breast size doesn’t actually indicate how much milk they’re producing – small-breasted women can certainly breastfeed their babies without supplementing with formula, and large-breasted women can require formula supplements sometimes, too. So really, there’s no reason why in the Omegaverse, a man could give birth and then be able to nourish his baby, too.
(Ain’t science grand?)
Why is Connie being able to get married such a big deal? Why couldn’t she get married before?
For the same reason that gay and lesbian couples have been barred from marriage until the last few years in much of the world (and still are banned from marriage in parts of it). Discrimination, pure and simple.
One of the things I like about the Omegaverse – about any science fiction or paranormal story, really – is the opportunity to comment on various facets of the world as we know it. SciFi has done this for years, ever since Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein. The right to marry in the United States might be settled now – but that’s not the case in other parts of the world, and the parallels with Connie and Brent’s right to marry in The Omega Nanny are intentional.
So all an alpha and omega have to do is bite, and they’re bonded?
Biologically speaking, yes. Legally speaking, there’s a few other things Thomas and Kieran would need to do – signatures and whatnot, but nothing too major. Can’t have a society without paperwork of some kind!
(The Country Omega goes into the whole contract/arranged marriage concept a bit more thoroughly – maybe a little more thoroughly than some would like – but it’s a good place to start if you’re keen to read about that sort of detail.)
You had Kieran pushing in the labor scene. Um… where’s that baby coming out?
Same place it went in. 🙂 Well, that’s my theory, anyway, feel free to ignore that bit if it disturbs you, I don’t mind!
I’ve seen multiple methods of baby removal in mpreg fics. Sometimes there’s a spontaneous hole that appears when the baby’s ready to be born. Sometimes operations are required. I’ve even seen one book where the pregnant father’s skin turned to jelly, allowing the doctor to reach in and pull the baby out. The possibilities are endless and increasingly creative.
Because people are amazing, there are folks out there who have not only written thousands of words of meta about the political and social ramifications of the Omegaverse, there’s people who have written thousands of words about the biology too – and included diagrams. If you are at all interested in biology, you could be occupied for days. It’s kind of fabulous.
Oh, who am I kidding? It’s totally fabulous.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Meep! I don’t have one planned, actually – well, not exactly. Certainly Cameron and Desmond have a story to tell – but they haven’t been inclined to tell it to me just yet. And I admit, I’d love to stick Vera in the interrogation chair – but she didn’t ever show up to storyboards so I honestly don’t quite know what was going through her head most of the time. (Hence why she never appeared in the book, either.)
But there is more Omegaverse coming – I’m working as hard and fast as I can on The Country Alpha, which is the second part of the Downing Cycle, and it’s on track to be released this fall. And I think it’ll be more than worth the wait… mostly because it’s a whole lot more than I bargained for when I began!
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While I’m here… if you haven’t already read Aiden Bates’ wonderful take on the Omegaverse, Country Passions, you really need to read it! I just finished it, and I loved his version of the Omegaverse. It’s not the same as my own – omegas and alphas are more of a hidden society than in my headcanon, and there are aspects of his world that are much, much darker and scarier – but I love the characters Bates has created and the story that revolves around them. If you enjoy the Omegaverse – you’re gonna love Country Passions, so please take a few moments to give it a look!
Have a wonderful day!