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It’s not always what you think.

I, like most young writers, did the natural thing when I joined social media: I followed authors of books I loved. Some were great, like Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman that speak about respecting others, making great art, and sometimes the struggles of life. They do what they can to help those in need and encourage others to do so. They share their love of books, words, artwork, and comics. And it’s a wonderful corner of the social medias. Even when I disagree with them sometimes (because it’s very hard to find someone you agree with 100% of the time) I never feel like they are talking down to me, or feel that I am less of a person because I disagree with them.

Then there are other authors I had to stop following. One I wrote about before, others said some really awful things that made me hate going to twitter, and after a while I just had to stop following them in order to have any semblance of a happy life. I wanted to talk about things that concerned me in the world, even take action when appropriate. I didn’t want to feel like the sky was falling every time I opened my phone. I couldn’t live like that, so I stopped following them.

Today I saw one of those authors have a small rant on twitter and blame everyone except for himself for his failure. You see, he was fired from his job. He even admits they said they fired him for his vulgarity and confrontational behavior on twitter. He said it was something different: it’s the right wingers! They did it! They caused him to get fired by constantly harassing him because of LGBTQ characters in his stories.

So I was curious and went to look at his book. 39% of the reviews are one star. I started reading through them and review after review after review mentioned poor writing, short sentences, and boring characters. Only three of the reviews I read mentioned feminism or LGBTQ. Even the reviews that mentioned the “social justice” angle mentioned the poor writing. Then I found this lovely review:

No! Surely it isn’t that bad, it can’t be possible. So I read the first two chapters and…it’s worse!

I have no doubt that someone loves this type of writing. I have read parts of other books that try to break from the mold and make something different. Tree of Codes was made by cutting away words from another book to make a new story. The Lovers Dictionary is poetry made entirely from dictionary entries. There are many books out there, especially in literary circles, that have unusual, or intricate stylistic qualities to them.

You won’t find them in the latest Sookie Stackhouse, or Magic the Gathering franchise novel. You won’t find these unusual turn of phrases inside a Nora Roberts novel. What you’ll find inside each of their stories is consistency across the brand, from how characters are described, to common phrases and sentence construction.

To take a beloved franchise of hundreds of books and then turn it into a literary exposition….well I can’t say that I’m surprised that it wasn’t received well. The author blamed a lot of the bad reviews on the poor reception of the last movie, and how “toxic” the fans were. I wrote my own review of the latest movie in this franchise and this particular author would have called my review toxic, too. It doesn’t matter that I had legitimate things I didn’t like about it. I dared to speak against it so I’m part of the problem.

And that’s where I guess my opinions sour on certain authors, artists, or people in general. Just because someone criticizes your work that doesn’t mean they are criticizing you. Just because they didn’t like your work it doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad, in some cases (like this one) it probably was just presented to the wrong audience. Someone would have liked it, but not the fans of this particular franchise.

Right now I do want to make a point. I am criticizing the author, himself, directly. Blaming others for the fact that you got on twitter after poor sales and bad reviews and lambasted everyone who hated your work as trolls, and vulgar names, is down right terrible behavior. “Poor sportsmanship” would be a nice way of putting it. I have no doubt that there were some awful horrible people out there that said some nasty things to him. I’ve had those people in my chat, or stream, as well. I used the block button, or more often the mute button, and I stopped seeing their nasty comments. Then I went about having a happy life, which is the best revenge to any negative people out there. And sometimes I’ll even laugh and make a joke back and get them talking to me as a person instead of being an asshole.

I do know that sometimes it gets out of hand and people can do things offline instead of just through a keyboard. In those situations it’s important to keep your family safe. But in the vast majority of online interactions the easiest way to de-escalate a situation is just not to engage with the idiots online. Because they’re just that, idiots. If you stoop to their level then what does that make you?

And lets be clear, it wasn’t the LGBTQ angle. There are plenty of LGBTQ characters in many franchise books that are doing well. Here, choose a book from thousands of books that have LGBTQ lead characters in any genre out there. Most of them have really good reviews unless they have bad writing, or bad story. That’s how reviews work. Even when there are trolls making bad reviews it won’t be a large percentage of them.

Anyway, that’s my rant. And this is why new authors are told not to read their reviews. Don’t do it if you can’t handle the negative ones. And if someone says “your writing is bad” either listen, or put your writing to use where it will be appreciated. You don’t kill the characters in romance, and you don’t write literary fiction in a scifi space opera story. It never works out.

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Posted by on October 13, 2018 in On Writing

 

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What’s with all the games?

This weekend (my weekend, which is Wednesday and Thursday) was a weekend for being sick. I ended up taking an extra day to sleep the sickness away. It’s now Saturday, and I’m at work drinking my morning coffee and logging into the computer, and I feel much better. So glad I took that day.

But, while out for the weekend I did manage to get a few things done. Not much for my novel because that wasn’t working well. Something about fevers makes thinking difficult, or maybe just being really … REALLY … tired. In any event I did not do much actual story telling this weekend, but I did get some of my other writing, and a little art work done.

Anyone who has been following me for a while probably knows that I’m a gamer. What probably nobody knows is that I have a gaming blog where I do reviews. Not the usual kind of reviews, though, because it feels like everyone reviews AAA titles, and the big indie hits. I like the indie titles that fly under the radar, and mobile gaming. Since if felt like gamers all say “mobile gaming is for casuals” it was only natural for me to share some of my favorite mobile games. After all, Pokémon is a hand held game, it just so happens that handhelds now sit in our pockets and are attached to phones. It’s just really hard to find good games among all the junk.

What started out as “hey, this is a game I love, you should try it,” slowly evolved into a review sight for mobile titles. I started downloading, playing, and sharing my impressions of a bunch of mobile games, some of which are free. Some are bad. Some are good. A bunch of them I paid for through Humble Bundle. Lots of them!

I think I’ll be posting my favorite mobile games of 2017 this week, since that’s the thing to do. I will probably do a run down of my reads for this year on this blog, too, since I completed my reading challenge on Goodreads.

Overall my personal life has been pretty good this year. Bjorn is doing awesome with his new job. We did the trip to LA for Twitchcon. He just set up his new 3d printer last night so soon I’ll be able to do some designs for that. And I wasn’t sick nearly as much this year as previous years. Plus publishing two short stories (Dark Angels and Hidden Treasures) as well as Dragon’s Flame. Plus I’ve written another 100k words on the next two books for The Half Blood Sorceress Series. Just a lot of awesomeness.

Anyway, if you’re also into gaming you might check out the gaming blog over here. I sometimes post commentary on it as well, but mostly I just like sharing good games.

And look forward to some updates about the new Half Blood Sorceress later in the month.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in Updates

 

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Review: Web Series

I’ve watched a lot of web series online, and I thought maybe I could share some of my favorites, and tell you what I like about them. Maybe you can find one you enjoy as well. The only part I find fustrating about web series is that they are so short. But the good ones tend to get more than one season.

Sync– This was originally aired as a series, but now is available as a full length movie. A great scifi adventure where a man keeps replicating himself to infiltrate a facility.

Ren: The Girl with the Mark– Beautifully done fantasy series. A young girl, Ren, discovers that the marked ones aren’t as fictional as she thought they were. Such great acting, and good special effects. I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait for the second season.

Dragon Age: Redemption– Loved the video game, and this short web series inspired by the game is well done. A nice addition to the franchise.

JourneyQuest– This is a really funny series. It’s like a few friends did a really great D&D setting, making up their own paths, then recreated their characters. You have the terrible, and cowardly wizard. A bard with way too much courage. A fighter with more brawn then brains. And the companions just trying to keep everyone alive.

Star Trek Continues– Okay, so, I’m a Trekkie. I love almost all of the Star Trek series, including the original series where Kirk ran around with his shirt torn off half the time, and there was a moral to the story in a lot of the episodes, of not blatantly there at least in the background. So imagine my surprise when I found Star Trek Continues which had so much of that old charm of the original series. Some of their episodes are a bit more heavy handed with the morality, but otherwise I love these episodes. They are just as campy, and cheesy as the original.

Dr Puppet– An adorable stop motion series of Dr Who. Nothing more to say.

Neil’s Puppet Dreams– Still cute puppets, and kind of funny, but a little more adult in content. I love Neil Patrick Harris. He’s amazing, and always entertaining. And the set and puppet design for this are fantastic as well. Sad there were only a few episodes.

Convo’s with my 2 year old– As reenacted by the father, and another full grown man. This series has gotten more hilarious as the family has grown, now with their daughter portrayed as one man, and their son portrayed as another. The acting is fantastic, writing hilarious, and production so well done. But please….maybe I can have just one more cookie.

Mortal Kombat Legacy– This ones a bit harder to find on youtube. It is a Machinama series, and the first season seems to be available in various places, but the second season is not. It came out on blueray a while back so…who knows. But! It is a great series that takes off from the Mortal Kombat games/movies and has a fantastic plot. Incredible production value, and pretty good acting.

LARPs Season 1 and Season 2– This is the story of a group of LARPers, and how everything goes totally wrong. But it might work out in the end. Really well done series, fantastic writing, some good actors, and really funny moments.

Space Janitors– A couple of janitors working on the Death Star, and their friends. For janitors they a really do manage to mess things up a lot.

Of course there is also The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, but they are pretty well known, and you can find them on Netflix, too.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Review

 

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Review: Between

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix originals lately. They are usually great shows with interesting plots, great writing, some fantastic directing, etc. Daredevil and Jessica Jones are fantastic. Hide of Cards is captivating. Etc.

So tonight I sat down to do some Christmas decorating and thought I’d try “Between”. The premise seemed interesting. An unknown disease kills off everyone in a small town over the age of 22 leaving the children and young adults to fend for themselves. The government swoops in with promises of a cure and quarantines them.

Add in some tensions between some of the high school boys, a couple of love triangles, and a couple of mysteries and you have yourself a TV show, right?

Well, no. Not a good one at least.

I’m kind of sad because it has some interesting story elements, but the writing for this show just goes flat. The characters aren’t believable, and half the things going on are just contrived. In the six episodes there are a handful of interesting moments, but often the bad plot line or mediocre acting gets in the way.

I could have lived with mediocre acting. But the story and unconvincing character lines just couldn’t make up for it. In the end I have to say: don’t watch it. Go watch Jessica Jones instead.

Want an example? One of the main guys is a “rich boy” that almost kills someone by speeding past them, then gets out of trouble because money. Then when his parents die he suddenly wants to take charge, and he gets ahold of a bunch of guns to do it.

Then there is the sisters, one a teen pregnant and about to give her child up for adoption. The other a ministers daughter to the core constantly going on about her sister needing to repent.

Most of the characters are stereotypes. It’s incredibly lazy writing. And I kind of wonder if the director didn’t take half a vacation while this was being edited. It’s that bad.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Review

 

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My love/hate affair with reviews

“As an author…” Don’t you just hate it when someone starts the conversation as “As X I believe Y.” It sets them apart, says “I’m X and you aren’t therefore you don’t understand in the same way I do.”

Except that we all have those moments. Because I am a mother I see things in certain ways. Because I am an author I see another faucet of the world. A girlfriend, a divorcee, a survivor of abuse, a high school graduate. All of those things are things that I have done, as have many thousands of other people. So as one of them I do have a different perspective then someone who isn’t.

It’s still a bothersome way to start a conversation. And yet I almost did here.

Anyway, back on subject. I’ve been thinking about reviews a lot lately. NOT reviews of my book, as you might have guessed, but reviews from my day job. Some of you might know that I am a manager at a little store. Our corporation has “asked” us to get reviews from the customers. This means we hand out cards that say “give us a review on Google or Yelp to let others know how you like us,” or something to that effect.

For every fifty cards you give out you might get one review. This causes problems in a little store like mine where I only see two to three people a day. I ask, I hand out cards, and I just barely manage to get their quota of two reviews a month most months.

Then I have to go through the whole conversation of “Why aren’t you doing better?” Sigh.

So when I come home and I deal with my writing and it comes time to ask for reviews…there is a love/hate struggle of epic proportions going on inside of me.

First of all, I LOVE reviews on my books. I’ve only gotten a couple of bad ones, and so many great ones. I’ve read every single one and they just make me happy. Happy that someone took the time to read it. Happy that someone bothered to write a review. Happy that people ACTUALLY LIKED my book.

But the asking…the asking for reviews sucks and I hate it. I hate to feel like I’m imposing myself on others.

“Reviews are the life blood of authors” as the email I just got this morning from another author friend reminded me.

Then you go to Target, or the local boutique, or the car wash and are bombarded by people asking for reviews. Then you get these postcards of “review us please” filling up your pockets.

reviewAs an author I love reviews. As a consumer I am slightly annoyed with every store asking for them. And as a manager at a little shop I feel guilty asking for them, and frustrated that I can’t make the quota.

I still do it. I do my job, put a smile on my face, hand them the card and say “Please give us a review to let others know how helpful we’ve been.” Then I ask the next person, and the next, rarely expecting a review because so few people actually do.

And that’s the crux of the problem. The new internet revolves around reviews, but only a small fraction of us actually do them. I know I don’t do them very often. I just added a ton of books to my Goodreads library and only reviewed a handful of them.

Your book reading choices are being influenced by a fraction of the reading population. Did you know that? If 1000 people download the book, and 100 people read it, but only only ten actually give it a review that is a really small portion of the people who own it actually saying anything about it. That means if you care about reviews only a small portion of people, those who review everything, or those who had significant interaction with (good or bad) are influencing your decision on which product to buy.

And there are good reasons to review, and good reasons not to. For me, I prefer to review books that I really ABSOLUTELY loved so that others will know how much I loved it and might also read it. But I’ve read a lot of books and reviewing them all would take a very long time.

I don’t know if there is a point to any of this. Review my book? Yes, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read my book. But I don’t want to seem pushy either. So read it, enjoy it, and if you want to then let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you, even if you hated it.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Commentary

 

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Abandoned books.

The other day reddit had a thread suggesting that Goodreads should have an “abandoned” category for book lists.

This got me thinking. I’ve actually abandoned a lot of books the last couple years.  More than ever before. Not always because they were bad books. Sometimes it was time management issues, or just not quite captivating enough. Every now and then I’d get involved in other things and just forget I was reading that particular book.

The are so many wonderful books out there and not enough time to read them. If there was a heaven it might be eternity in a library with every book ever written. (As long as it comes with a Starbucks.) But this isn’t heaven, it’s just Washington. We don’t have eternity, just 80 years or so. So picking and choosing which books to read is sometimes a bit important. I’m going to spend hours or days with this book, I want to enjoy the experience.

I don’t know if an abandoned book tag is a good idea, especially since people won’t be telling you why they abandoned it, but it would be interesting. You might learn some interesting things about a book, or people’s taste, or what keeps them turning the page.

There is a man who documents his abandoned books. In the The Immerse or Die report Jefferson Smith reads until the book has three ‘fatal flaws,’  and then he tells you what they are. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the book was unreadable or that he didn’t finish it, just that it had some major issues that pulled him out of the story enough for it to be a ‘fatal flaw.’

I know some of the things that pull me out of a story are too much foreshadowing, LOTS of grammar/spelling mistakes, inconsistency, and a style or plot so convoluted that I can’t follow it. There are more reasons, but those are the ones that come to mind right off the top of my head.

Why might you abandon a book? Would you want to share that with others? Would you want to know why others abandoned your book?

That last question… I think I’m a little too chicken to put my sorry up for speculation on Immerse or Die. At least for now.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in On Writing

 

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That’s What He Said

I use to use google reviews as ways to check out new businesses. They aren’t scammy like yelp. But right now my company is trying to get google reviews. And boy are they pushing it.

“Look at this as an opportunity to practice promoting yourself” said my boss. He knows that I’ve published books, and that I’m struggling with getting noticed, reviews, and basically anything that says ‘hey look at me, I wrote this, you should read it’.

And he isn’t wrong.

It’s incredibly difficult to draw attention to myself, or anything I do. It goes against everything I was trained… stay unseen. Stay unheard. Your opinion isn’t valuable. No one cares. You’re not worth it. No one likes you. No one will ever love you.

So I find myself confronting all these things I heard for all of those years. And some days I make little breakthroughs and I can say ‘see, I did this and I think it’s good.’ (Well, mostly I say I think it’s ‘okay’ because I don’t want to disappoint anyone.)

And other days I freeze. The words get stuck on my tongue. I want to run, hide, cry, and just get everyones attention off of me somehow, anyway possible.

I recognize that this was caused by years of abuse. I recognize that the whispering in my head telling me that no one cares, and no one wants to hear what I have to say isn’t right. DEPRESSION IS A LYING BASTARD!

Half the struggle is recognizing this. Before I knew why this was happening I let my fight or flight system kick in and I would retreat. Get quite. Go unnoticed. After 30+ years of practice I’m really good at it.

But I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to write, and I want to share my stories with people. I want to know that my words will live on even when I’m gone. I want to inspire others to follow their passions, and their loves.

And really… I don’t want to be broken anymore. I don’t want what he did to me to be what dictates my life from here on out. This is my life, and I am worthwhile, and I have something amazing to say. People do want to listen to me. They do want to talk to me.

So… I wrote a book. And I’m really proud of it. I hope you read it some day.

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Commentary

 

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