I received some very thoughtful critique from one of my beta readers on "Wings of Winter". The gist of it was that the story didn't take enough risks. That it needed to be 'edgier', the division between antagonists and protagonists less obvious.
I have been thinking about her comments quite seriously and I understand her perspective. Yes, there is an innocence in this story. And a certain element of predictability--in an archetypal way. I see the story as sweeping and lyrical. I sought to explore the inner lives of the characters and the nature of their choices. For me, the conflict is more there than the more obvious external conflicts the characters have with their antagonists.
And thanks to her comments, I can see several places where I need to draw that out more, one that will raise the stakes and sharpen this internal conflict significantly (and with only a few changes).
I'm not sure that this particular story with these specific characters will work if I follow a more radical course. I want to believe that there is still room in the vast marketplace of books for this kind of story. There is no cynicism in it. I am not cynical--and I'm not sure I can even find that place of edginess within me.
My next book will be darker, with less clear-cut divisions between 'good' guys and 'bad', but still, knowing who *I* am, it will have a thread of innocence and optimism and perhaps even simplicity.