I gave the full edited MS of SEASONS IN THE MIST to my crit partner Janny over the weekend. Mind you, she's seen pieces of it as it's grown, but never the full.
I'm tearing up now, because here is her assessment of the part she has read so far:
"...your characters have a relaxed sense of humor that shines through; I think that many historical romance writers are so cognizant of the necessity to put in crackling sensual tension that the characters almost end up being too intense and focused on those things, to the exclusion of being balanced human beings (unbalanced, unrealistic human beings in romance books? Surely I jest!).
"And, of course, because there's a spiritual content to yours that is more straightforward and wholesome than secular medievals tend to have, the entire world and the people in it 'hang together' better. One temptation that contemporary writers always have to fight is the tendency to forget that their heroines cannot be modern women in costume dramas--they have to sound, as much as possible, like women of that time WOULD sound, act, and yes, even think. This is hard for most of them to do, especially in the area of faith, religion, and/or the Church.
"In that sense, your characterization of Michael is especially wonderful--he balances the hard (and sad) reality of clerics who don't do their jobs and/or aren't educated properly and/or are lazy against the spiritual reality that, in fact, this is all the people HAVE and that no servant of God is gonna be perfect anyway. There's an almost tender regard he has for the human weaknesses of the priests and other clerics in this book that I think would ring much truer to the time period than the more cynical, jaded, or sarcastic viewpoints that so often show up on the part of characters in other medievals. In that sense alone, you've already risen above the crowd.
"And it goes without saying that as a Catholic, I'm thoroughly sick of reading contemporary liberal anti-Church speeches coming out of characters who wouldn't have made those speeches in the times in which they lived. You not only stayed out of that trap, but you made the character come alive as a man of faith as a result. To which I can only say, 'Brava!'"
As I say, this gets me, like, all misty. I've aspired to something and apparently in my crit partner's eyes, achieved it. All glory to God. This is a story I've wanted to tell for years, and it seems to me a very wondrous and humbling thing that it'll be coming out to the world in general.
If there's a point to this post is: they say, "Write the book of your heart," and it's true. I was told this piece would never sell. I put it away assuming the industry was right and I was all wet, that it would never find a home and I alone would travel this road along with my characters. I guessed wrongly. A most humbling thing.