I received a beta's remarks back on the Pearl novella. Thankfully, she liked it and while there needs to be some clean-up and a few additions and subtractions, the biggest thing for me was when she wrote in her email:
"I'm so impressed! I actually got a little teary-eyed at the end. It makes me want to go and hug my brother, even though I just saw him
So, yay! It's always been important to me that there's an emotional impact to a story. When my emotions are engaged while reading, that means I'm in. Sometimes that means I care about what's going to happen to the protagonist or I want to know if the couple end up together (I read a lot of historical romance; they always do, but the getting there is interesting) or I like the author's style or I'm interested in the little details sprinkled through that make that story and world come alive in my imagination.
But at the end--it's about the feeling I get from the characters and the stories. When I'm writing a story, I often worry that what I want to convey won't come through. A writing professor once described my writing as "so subtle it's not there."