The good news: So far, no one is saying it sucks. Positive feedback for the most part.
The bad news: It had to happen, but we've gotten to the hard parts now. Comments are no longer just about individual paragraphs that are written sub-optimally, or scenes that need refinement. Nope, we've hit plot holes, entire chapters that have been recommended for the cull, other chapters which I'm told are supposed to be extremely emotional and yet lack emotional affect, and then there are the "WTF ALEX?" moments.
The lack of emotional resonance is largely due to the way I write Alexandra. She's not usually particularly demonstrative, as you know. But I live in her head, so when I write that she says or does something, without an outward indicator of how she's feeling, well, it's obvious to me what the significance is. I need beta readers to point out to me when it's not obvious to the reader, even someone familiar with Alex and her habit of trying to be Little Miss Stoic.
That's probably fixable. But there are chapters that go on for quite a stretch of time on one particular subplot, and clearly some of them go on too long, which is why I'm about to face the painful dilemma of figuring out which of my darlings to kill. You all will (if I do it right) never know which brilliant line of dialog was cut, or which hilarious or poignant or clever scene was ultimately deemed unnecessary to move the story forward. But I will! Cutting is hard.
Then there are the plot holes. So far, not huge gaping ones that make the entire story collapse, thankfully, but a few have definitely emerged, and in the process of figuring out how to write my way around them, new ideas have emerged, and since I am also in the process of outlining books six and seven... there is going to be some significant rewriting.
Also, the phrases "Moral Event Horizon" and "Peak Asshole" have been used. (Okay, I coined the last one.)
I don't think it's a literal Moral Event Horizon. Alex has her redeeming moments, too. I still love her. But she's gonna have a lot to atone for.
Thanks to all the aforementioned plot holes and impending rewrites, I will treat you to the rough sketches of some scenes that may or may not actually appear in the final draft...
I am about to go on vacation (out of the country!). So probably no posting for a while, but I'll have my laptop with me and I might try to write a bit when I have a spare moment.