Changing Tides

This is the last official update on this version of the blog/website. I’m in the process of getting the  new website set up on its  new home servers. So, if you followed this blog, please, since I think it needs to be redone, follow us over there and bear with me as I get things settled. Authors: Spotlights will be linked from one to another and won’t go down with the disuse of this site since its running the free url that wordpress provides that won’t expire and will continue once the new site isn’t such a shell.

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Dear Stranger…

Since I delayed in the post allow me to set it up in the proper time frame. This past weekend after my husband got out of work I decided to surprise him with getting his Father’s Day present a day early which involved going to Target. Now, I should mention we rarely shop at Target for several reasons that aren’t important for this post, but the machine was there so, despite my husband’s protests of me dragging him to a store, we went. Needless to say after we got his present- which was a French Press coffee maker- his tone drastically changed and we browsed the aisles a bit and ended up with a few more things before checking out. While we waited, I heard a few children a couple of checkouts over go into the usual childlike wonder at my current hair color which caused me to smile and I turned my attention munchkin where he sat in the cart looking at the stuff we had bought. After we leave and are home a few my husband turns to me, noting a few looks I had overlooked while I was talking to munchkin about the things in the cart. I look perplexed for a moment, so he reminds me we are far from normal- we’re both in our mid-twenties with  a three year old, and in my case- which has been confirmed by an insane amount of strangers- I look younger. The biggest guilty party of the depth of dislike and unwelcome he described, though was the hair, mine being the blue it is and his falling to about mid-back. Now- looks and some glares are no strange thing to me since going outta the box in regards to my hair, but given that my husband took it on himself to silently tell the guilty party here that her glare wasn’t welcome drove it to a new level since it showed that it was enough to bother him, and he gives about ten thousand less cares about what other people think and actually encourages me to do the same. And while I usually try to simply ignore things, this incident as well as a few others prompted this response:

Dear stranger,

You know me. I’m the one that sticks out like a sore thumb in a crowd if only due to one fact of my appearance- my hair. I’m the one that you just spent the entire wait in line giving a death stare to and sending silent messages that generally boil down to unwelcome before moving onto my husband. You don’t know me though, just as I don’t know you- not the true me or you anyway. Since you will never give me the chance to tell you- why don’t I do it now. Yes, my hair is blue- it might not be to your tastes, but it is to mine. There is no reason for you to make me feel unwelcome, or try to because of that fact. I don’t make you feel unwelcome, or at least try not to because your hair is a shade of my natural color, brown and I happen to dislike that color on me.  Besides taste, there is another reason my hair is blue and that is because very recently I managed to overcome my self-esteem issues and start doing things for me and not what the popular opinion wants. I dyed my hair since high school at various times, but because of this was always too afraid to try the wild colors. This re-found ability enables me to brush off most of the stares, but doesn’t make me immune to them by any means and especially not the harsh ones like you gave today. But that stare will never allow you to know this about me because of simply closing your mind due to appearances.

You will also never know though we look young, my husband and I have been together for 7 and a 1/2 years, almost been married a whole year and have been through hell and back, even more than some- as we joke, we’re only waiting for the richer part of the marriage vows. I’m trying to keep in mind that you would never know this without asking or really taking in the rings on my left hand, but I wonder if the wrinkled nose, like something that smelled rotten was underneath it, was really needed. Chances are it wasn’t.

Yes, everyone at some point does the judging stare in various degrees, the only thing separating one from another is the intention of the stare. They can range from simply taking in and casting silent judgements to trying to drive away as you were. It only partly worked, it was enough to make us feel unwelcome but not enough to make us simply drop everything and go away. We all have our own preferences painted by our own internal styles or what is shown out there in the world (ex. Media coverage or reality tv shows), but it doesn’t make driving away based on that any more right or any less hurtful. So, next time you see someone who might not look like everyone else, who has something about them that might stand out whether it’s hair or something- think twice about what message that stare might deliver because even the toughest people can crack and you might not know their whole story.

_____________________________________________________________________

Note: I wrote this with the thought that for good or bad or right or wrong, we all cast judgements, you only need to go the nearest high school to really see it. The main thing is being on the receiving end of the judgements like the one my husband and I experienced and what that cuts off because such a judgement is cast and if people should be judged that way for things like blue hair. If you comment keep comments along these lines and not how right or wrong or anything like that such judgements are, all that is, is a can of worms and leads to just comments being combed since I don’t think anyone will agree anytime soon on it sadly.

Deep Sunday Thoughts

Okay I confess- some of this will be repeats from previous posts where they were touched on in some detail or very little. This is my current mood though based on what just happened and made it dawn on me once more. The set up- I was sitting with my son on my lap watching a few music videos and a couple behind the scenes ones as well while we cuddled before bed. He was entranced though for a couple of the behind the scenes one I was more interested in what was being said- following your dream and being afraid to fail. The constants we put on ourselves that actually prevent us from following those dreams and I realized that’s what I had been suffering from for years now and still haven’t been able to shed it. ( Link to the video that partly sparked this post here, by the way if you haven’t I highly encourage you to check out her music as well.) While chancy indie publishing and being an indie author has never been at its best point to try to get into because of the attention it now has as well as credibility.

So I completely realized how right she was in this video- as we grow older we do put constraints on our dreams. Instead of seeing limitless potential we see hurdles upon hurdles and practicalities. Yes- some would call this realism and I would agree that some realism is necessary but you hear every day of people working jobs they HATE to get by only. And by hate I mean barely tolerate with sanity, several steps above and beyond what I consider baseline of simply impatient for the day to be over like I was during my summer job at a local amusement park back in high school. Anyway- I watched my son stare fascinated at the images on the screen, whether he fully understood what was said it caused me to think back to my mindset when I first started this journey- to show him dreams- even impossible seeming ones -can be possible.

Growing up I had a pretty lose outlook on what was possible for me from others in my life. At the same time- they urge me to get a solid job, one with a secure future- or you know, those ones that chances are you HATE or are ranked a bit below that point on the scale of job love. Who cares if you enjoy it, they say- it pays the bills and that’s all that matters liking it will either grow or just never come. As for me I had a drastically different view, what is a job if you don’t like it? I went in phases- I wanted to be a doctor.. .then actor except I have horrible shyness and stage fright- then author – and eventually professor as my college years progressed and the author thing became a distant memory. Then I discovered that I could actually accomplish that dream and figured why not try. Best to finally give it a go then not, of course this thing that I thought was going to be a somewhat laid back affair now carries a piece of my soul, hopes and dreams. It no longer is seen as a secondary thing, but a focus though I still go to school. Still, the same people wonder how much money I’m making from books, how much this and that is going into this. In other words- how much is being wasted on such a chancy thing?

I try to tactfully dodge the questions- since I’m starting to be honest the answers will just add fuel to the fire. I’m still finding my footing, tweaking my strategy and approaches- the windfall- if any is fall off into the future. But sitting here tonight I wonder why I ever stopped those years ago when I was spurred on to seek publishing the first time. I refocused my view because to be frank a few weeks ago I had one of those great moments authors have at times that I was about to throw in the towel and quit. I realized it was the same voices- the ones that tell you to go the realistic to constrained route in life that caused the silence, the abandonment of the dream for that time period. I was looking at colleges, trying to find a steady job- I couldn’t balance both I felt and still go to high school. And when I say trying to find  a steady- not seasonal job I mean really under a lot of pressure to do so though I was never really successful. Conversations turned to “What do you want to do after you’re done with school?” Anything less than certain was met with the usual grimace and quickly flying suggestions of alternatives that were much safer. This followed to the – why don’t you just work and not go to school suggestion. So I lived by the mantra for years of safety over dream- now that isn’t to say I have no love for being a professor or my major and that all they are is that safe option- on the contrary I do. It was one of those majors and ideas that take hold in the “discovery time” of early college years when you test the waters and discover new fields.

Last winter though I remembered those stories, since Vengeance and another idea I’m developing for a future series are both written originally back then. I remembered the far flung dreams and the voices urging me to publish, that it was good enough to make it. So I dared to take a look with fresh eyes and shove the other voices that said it was a waste of time and wouldn’t go anywhere- to just continue on the secure path aside and decided to go for it. To be honest while I want my son to have a secure future I don’t want him to do something he hates for it, I don’t’ want him to abandon a dream because it is hard and most of all I don’t want him to lose that world of wide possibilities we seem to completely lose as adults. Some harshness and realism will happen, it is par the course, you want to have that backup plan but I don’t ever want him to feel he has to wonder what if. What better way than to prove that it can be done taking a rode you have to literally pave yourself? Sure its not the easiest route- at the same time is querying agents and publishers any easier at times? You trade waiting for work – yeah there are pros and cons to each version of publishing- that’s a whole other post though, but really is it any easier on the nerves wondering if that latest promo effort paid off or if you would get a favorable response from someone who would represent you and your ideas? I also do it for myself- to fulfill a dream from days gone by that I thought I’d left behind forever but have a chance still to fulfill. I do it to also, and some may think this petty, to prove those nay-saying voices wrong. To prove that you can make a sustainable living of an amount doing this job, a job I love and fulfill a dream that may or may not be worth it in others eyes. In a way I’ve already accomplished the first part of the reasoning, I have a few books out with more being worked on- I have shown it is possible but its not done.

So in this insane stream of consciousness I began on a Sunday night and am now finishing in the early dawn hours Monday I do have a point. The point is to not give up on those dreams- seek out and remember those that encourage them, ignore the rest though those voices will be the loudest at times. Most of all, pass that belief down to the next generation if you have kids or someone of similar age in your life like nieces or nephews. Like I said some realism is going to happen, these dreams are hard work no matter what route you take, and sometimes things prevent them from being fulfilled right now. Don’t give the line of them being not worth it because of it and push into  the realm of  never instead of maybe. Encourage smartness but not lack of worth. Maybe then we can all keep looking at the world through the eyes of a child somewhat again and believe in not just the limitless potential of others but our own.

Author Spotlight 4-4- Introducing Andrew Lawston

I’m running a lot later this post than I am- life somewhat ran away for me and I apologize for that. Without any further delay I must say it is my pleasure to introduce author, Andrew Lawston.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My name’s Andrew Lawston and I’m a 30-something writer, amateur actor, and publishing professional. I live and work in London with a little black cat. I’m a keen fan
of Doctor Who, which inspired me to start writing from an incredibly young age, and the old Doctor Who novelisations kept me reading at a blistering rate while I was
growing up. I used to be a French teacher, and I have degrees in French and Film Studies. I enjoy cooking, going to the theatre, long walks by the Thames, and a nice
pint of beer. I’m basically a very silly person, if I’m being completely honest.

2) Where can we find you on the internet? 

I’m all over the place! I’ve just started a new blog at http://andrewlawston.blogspot.com, I’m on Twitter as @alawston, and Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/andrewklawston. My Amazon profile can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Lawston

3) Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style? 

I don’t really have a fixed genre, though I’m drifting towards a sort of magical realism, I suppose. I have an idea for a story, and I write it, whichever genre that story
needs to be. I’ve written a bit of horror, a bit of fantasy, a bit of science-fiction, a bit of humour. My writing style is often described as ‘quirky’. I don’t know, really. I enjoy
writing, and my style tends to vary according to what I’m working on. I’ve done everything from silly short stories to formal academic writing, so it can be hard to pin
down. My short story voice has become fairly defined though, as a playful, readable style, but I’m not afraid to use a few long words. Especially now everyone’s reading
on digital devices with built-in dictionaries!

4) Tell us about your latest book. 

Story of My Escape is a very special project. It’s a translation of Giacomo Casanova’s 18th Century classic “Histoire de ma fuite” which was his published account of
his escape from prison in Venice in 1756. It’s an amazing book, but it’s never been published widely in English before! It’s taken me four years (not working on it
solidly though). Casanova is living the high life in Venice when, quite abruptly, he’s arrested and locked away under the lead slabs of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. He
doesn’t know why, and he doesn’t know how long his sentence will be. So he sets about escaping in a most audacious and ingenious fashion.

There are two ways to look at the book, really. On the one hand, it’s a rollicking adventure, gradually accelerating as Casanova becomes more and more desperate to
break out of his cell. On the other, it’s a great way to learn more about the man himself. There’s a lot more to Casanova than his romantic exploits; he was a writer,
philosopher, musician, scholar, soldier, spy, confidence trickster and more. This book showcases the breadth of his character: his wit, intelligence, resolve, and
ruthlessness, and it hopefully gives readers a more balanced view of one of the 18th Century’s most notorious figures.

5) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why? 

I think it would have to be Middle Earth, probably in the Shire. In the film version, where nothing bad happens, and all the hobbits wander around in waistcoats, stoned
off their furry little toes, and writing their quaint little life stories by hand in giant leather tomes. I think I’d make a good hobbit. *wistful sigh* I need to wear more
waistcoats…

6) What was your favorite book growing up? 

Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett. The high-concept idea of the Grim Reaper retiring, with all the chaos that entails, is offset by the rather charming adventures of the
human Death on a little farm in the hills. It was one of the first Discworld novels I read, and it got me really excited about writing fantasy and humour (though not
necessarily together, I think Pratchett has that sewn up).

7) The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there? 

Just keep writing. And ignore all the nonsense. There’s a lot of posturing at the moment from ‘indie’ authors about the death of ‘trad’ publishing, and the death of ‘dead
tree’ books, and the rise of this, and the opportunities of that. They’re all selling something, and the bottom line is this: they don’t know, and neither do you. And neither
do I, come to that. The future of publishing is ALWAYS uncertain. Amazon and e-books are just the latest twist in the rambling saga of an inherently unstable industry.
It really needn’t have any effect on your writing. Just keep your head down and write. Worry about macro-economic trends in literature another day.

8) What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment? 

I write first drafts mostly with a cartridge pen and notebook, before typing up later. I view the act of typing up a handwritten story as a ‘free redraft’ because I can edit on
the fly. When I’m a fair way into the story, and it’s all settled, and I know its shape, then I may start typing before the first draft is finished – it depends entirely how I feel.
As for environment, I write in the pub, on trains, at the dining table, wherever really. It used to be almost exclusively in pubs and bars, but I’ve grown up a bit since
those days. I started writing in bars because I was the only non-smoker in my social group, so I needed something to do when my friends all went outside and I was
left to hold the table. Then it became a genuine writing habit, and then it became an affectation, at which point it immediately stopped being useful.

9)What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies? 

I’m very much a video gamer! My favourite game tends to be ‘the one I’m playing at the moment’, but enduring favourites include the Max Payne series for being just
tongue in cheek enough about their unremitting misery, the Half Life games (because of the awesome), We ❤ Katamari for sheer lunacy, and Doom II: Hell on Earth.
This last because I spent quite a chunk of my first year of university modding it to include 8-bit graphics from 1980s Amstrad games. At the time I thought it was the
most ironic thing ever to retro-fit this super-modern game with ancient graphics. Now you look at Doom II and it looks old enough to be the game Noah played on the
Ark while waiting for the rain to stop!

Other hobbies? I touched on the acting – I’m an actor with a community theatre group that donates profits to local charities in our corner of London. That’s amazing fun,
and one day I hope to write a play for them or something.

10) What can we look forward from you in the future? 

I have a second collection of short stories that I think is about half-done. There are four complete stories, with lengths ranging from 500 to 8,500 words, and a clutch of
drabbles. I’ve also got a bunch of half-complete stories to finish off the collection. It really depends how quickly I can get them polished to a decent standard, but I’m
hoping to have it out shortly after Easter. Also on the short fiction front, I’m going to go back to my roots, scrub up all my old Doctor Who fanfiction, and post it on
Wattpad. You’re welcome, Internet 😉

In the second half of the year, I also have two professional appearances lined up in anthologies: a Christmas-themed adventure in Sanity Clause is Coming, and a
science-fictionfied fairytale retelling in the ongoing Grimm & Grimmer series. Both from Fringeworks.

I’m also still developing an idea for a whodunnit with a friend of mine. We’re very excited about it, but we’re also both very busy, and when we do see each other, we
tend to get carried away talking about what a brilliant idea it is, and then we get drunk congratulating ourselves on our genius, and then the next day we realise we’ve
still not actually written very much. At some point we’ll get ourselves organised, and it will be a three act play and a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

I should also really write a novel at some point. The problem is, there are so many stories I want to tell, and I find short fiction the most efficient way to get them down
on to paper.

Sad, Sad States…

I used to browse for hours and hours in the sci-fi /fantasy section of my local Barnes and Noble- while not the biggest section in the world it definitely seemed to have a good area, covering about 2/3 of the back wall in the main part of the store with about the same free standing shelves about equal to the wall space covered by the books. Included in this partly was a tiny nook that held both like TV book adaptions and tabletop RPG rule books for DnD and Warhammer among others. Have the authors that have shaped my own stories in some way were discovered in this section. So for part nostalgia, part I haven’t been in a actual brick and mortal book store in a while I decide while we were out and about today after a few appointments and Chinese lunch to go over and take a peek after my husband asked if there were anywhere else I’d like to go while we were in the area. We’ll not touch on how somewhat bad of an idea it is to take a three year old to a bookstore and expect him to behave long enough for you to browse the shelves at least in the slightest right now because I think everyone can see how this turns out.

Anyway, we walk back and I notice that the store has been rearranged even from what it was last time I was in, now the fantasy/sci-fi section was a fraction of what it was then. The YA books that had the fantasy subgenre were shoved in among the free standing shelves with their own label as though to fill it out more or marketing gimmick and the entire section were tucked behind the romance section. Regardless of my beloved books being shoved into a corner, the same corner that used to just be a continuation of the section in the store, I start looking as my son takes it all in, squealing with excitement and running hands down the shelves he could reach (I will note for my previous statement he was rather well behaved overall). Most of the section was filled with rather the bigger names in fantasy and sci-fi and what there was that stood out seemed to be vampire centric novels mainly – seriously are we done with this crazy yet? I’m tired of vampires really, I’ve been tired of it like two years ago at least. Needless to say I didn’t get anything this time around, couldn’t take  nearly as much time as I wanted to look around but left with a somewhat sadness that the section had shrunk so much. As I drove home my husband commented he was sorry I didn’t get a chance to look as much as he knew I would have liked.

“It’s fine,” I tell him. “To be honest the selection wasn’t that appealing to me anyway. I’m rather picky when it comes to books remember?”

“Yeah, but still.”

“I actually wanted to go because I like the store and missed looking at physical books and, in a self-centered way, see if my book was there by a fluke- so I at least accomplished that.”

“You don’t have anything with them though, right?”

“So long as there’s demand my books can appear anywhere really.” I sigh, “That section really made me sad though.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because it was so tiny- a lot smaller from what it used to be. I wonder what happened.”

“Must not have been selling that well,” he shrugs in his seat.

“Maybe, always seemed full back in the old days when I used to be there quite a lot. Even the last time was pretty crowded.”

Its sad to see a that section tucked away like a forgotten toy with no one really beside me and my husband son browsing the shelves, shrunk to a fraction of it’s former sizes. I look at it from two different angles understandably-as an author who writes fantasy- how successful with a shrinking section would a book signing, going with the thought of not too many sales, be in my city- what are the chances I’d see my name with the others on the shelves?  As a reader I’m sad because if I want a physical book in a reasonable distance, we don’t have too many small book shops around my area, there is less variety that I can get immediately and have that whole experience. I’m thinking the last one actually makes me sadder.

Memory Lane

Endings and beginnings… this is a long lasting trend on this blog I swear especially this past year. Chapters open and close throughout life but I’ve never had so many happen so close together. As I’ve said I also blame launching a new a career as partly responsible for the attention to it too. Yesterday was a busy one, and quite different from the day I had of Friday. Coming off Kakri’s release it was quite a somber experience in sharp contrast to the excitement and nervousness of releasing a new thing into the world, helping someone move from a house that held so, so many memories for me. I stood in the yard briefly several times looking out over the snowy landscape, the piles of plowed snow were almost in the same positions as my youth and watched my son clamber over the obstacle laughing as my sister’s dog bounded ahead of him. I remembered building what I saw as the most impressive snow fort, carving out with care the pile of snow, complete with fortifications and sledding escape only to have to redo at least part of it every time the plow came through again. I looked at the house next door, empty now and remembered the late summer nights with music over there and the children that played with us long after the sun went down. I walked to through the front yard, looking at the apple trees that occasionally dot the yard and the places where the old flower beds slept under the snow. The flower beds that used to be the pride and joy of this house, only shortly followed by the huge vegetable garden in the back. My husband is busy helping move the larger items with my father in law  while the owner of this house offers advice and says what order stuff is going out in. He doesn’t bother me as I walk out back, he knows I need the moments with the memories. Here in the back yard new memories assault me, bonfires at night, the forts that were never fully constructed but made ample use of fall leaves as they fell to at least blueprint where the other five million solid walls should have been. There was only about one physical wall, maybe a semi-solid cone of branches and sticks if we were lucky, but we were ambitious and dreamed big.

Eventually I did make my way back and finally helped move and pack up things into boxes. My son runs from partial cleared room to partially cleared room, bribing his aunt, grandpas and others for crackers and other goodies while he waits somewhat patiently for us to finish what we need to. We still have another day out there but this will probably be his last trip since moving things around with a toddler in tow is rather difficult and even his really good patience for being so young was tried at the end of the day. I steal a moment or two with him, telling him stories of the snow forts, bonfires and times with friends while the others discuss the garage. I tell him of raiding the blackberry and raspberry bushes that dot the yard and how good it tasted, I tell him of the times his father and I spent out here. Our stories are somewhat cut short as I ‘m called back to moving duty but I’m glad I got the chance to share at least sometime in this place with him as well.

Author Spotlight- Meet Tabitha Baumander!

It’s my extreme pleasure to introduce author, Tabitha Baumander!

IMG_5226           Castle doom 2

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Toronto Canada. I’m a novelist screenwriter and play write with 5 novels and a novella on Amazon.com. I’ve also had a dramatic short script produced.  I am a self taught writer and have been writing all my life but as I have issues with spelling I didn’t get anywhere until affordable home computers with good spell check came on the market. I’m divorced with adult offspring. As a day job I do telephone customer service and day dream of the day when I option that big script and never put on a head set again.

2) Where can we find you on the internet?
I think my Amazon page is the best.
http://www.amazon.com/Tabitha-Baumander/e/B00F6GJCZ2

however I also have a facebook page you can like
https://www.facebook.com/TabithaBaumanderCanadianWriter

3) Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?
I think in some ways genre chooses you. Its simply how your mind works. For instance my late mother was fond of “cosy”  style murder mysteries.  She didn’t understand my sort of thing at all. I tried to write a “cosy”  and got so bored after a chapter and a half that I put in a ghost. The ghost helped solve the murder.

4) Tell us about your latest book.
Castle Doom is an adventure fantasy that pits an army special service team against a “demon” trapped in an old ruined tower in a branch of the Black Forest in Germany.

 5) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?
I’ve visited London England I think I’d like to live there for a short time.  I’m fond of things English and you can use that as a starting point to take small trips around Europe.

6) What was your favorite book growing up?

In grade school Bambi then Gullivers  Travels.  Not sure about high school something from Steven King I think.

7) The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there?
Stay in school and get a good day job that you’ll like because with writing its about the journey not the dollar signs. That being said if you want to write then write.

8) What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment?
Feet up keyboard on lap. I use a desktop computer not a laptop. My desk is in the corner of my bedroom.

9)What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies? 
I do different crafts knitting etc. I also go to the movies as much as possible.

10) What can we look forward from you in the future?
I have a book called Warriors that will be coming out some time this spring. if you like my facebook page you will get up dates on when.

Thanks again Tabitha for taking the time for the interview, it was great to meet you!

My Perspective on Bullying

I’ve seen this a lot over the past few days where authors have shut down entire parts of their social networks because of cyber bullying and just overwhelming harassment. It’s ridiculous that these authors have had to come this far and take this step to avoid these people, for ANYONE to have to do these steps. And I know bullying happens on both sides, sometimes I’ve heard of authors harassing reviewers for not leaving that high star review or just leaving a lower rating and no review as soon as its posted. These by far are no isolated incidents, its becoming out of control and just needs to stop. Whatever happened to the if you can’t say anything nice philosophy? Have we really gone that far out that it doesn’t apply anymore? I don’t think so but this behavior has become so much the norm that it’s hard to see it otherwise. Its easy to forget there are other people sitting behind these screens we type on, and that, like you, they have feelings. Somehow the distance means that anything can and will be said- and I highly doubt at least a good portion of the comments in question would be said face to face. This last part is key to me in this whole issue, why say it if  you wouldn’t if you were in person? I’ve found both authors, bloggers and people that I don’t like but I don’t go out of my way to make their lives hell. There’s nothing to gain except for wasted energy, I just move on and be polite if I see them or have  discussion around them. I’ve also been among the ranking of leaving ratings with no reviews- I’m no pro reviewer by any means, if you can’t say stuff nice about a book then don’t say anything at all is my philosophy and is totally understandable. Hell, I’ve even got a two star review for one of my first reviews for Vengeance on Goodreads, overall the review was positive but there were points for that two star review. They e-mailed me in private to explain their reasoning, I thanked them and moved on. There’s always room to improve and as an author you learn fast that you may as well embrace- you’ll never please everyone.

I’ve also seen a rallying cry in some areas for people to defend one another, and while I wholly agree that we should come together to stand against this type of behavior, to show that it is not all right to do this it is very, very hard to defend someone in the act beyond reporting which happens in the background. Sometimes you’re not there right as the event happens, sometimes there is the fear that backlash can come on you tenfold. And the last is the very, very real fear, in particular it happened in the early online days and with this now seems to be having a resurgence that’s noticeable and highly vocal. I remember defending friends in chat rooms and having myself get bashed in the process of trying to do it. I haven’t gone into chat rooms since that time. There is no easy answer in the act of defending people actively and vocally. Showing support like I’ve seen happen for these authors in the past few days is a good start though. It shows how tight knit of a community, bloggers and authors alike, indie/self publishing is in my opinion, its the exact reaction needed. Nothing over the top, no charge in with guns blazing slinging their own hateful comments back at the offenders, but just hey- we stand with you, we’ll help you spread the word because you had to take these actions. With such a support group network its hard for bullies to find the reaction they want/ need- there are plenty of shoulders out there, mine included that victims can tell their stories to. I would also be remiss to also mention the obvious means to the victims of these acts, blocking and of course reporting along with possibly screenshots just in case proof is needed and deleting their comments, I  know in some cases they will just use dummy accounts but shut down does wonders at times with enough of it. If you do see a comment that crosses the line, do the same block, report even if it is not directed at you.

I’ve been fortunate overall to avoid this situation but still this keeps happening and sometimes it seems like its getting worse and worse. We do need a more united front on it- much like bullying in schools or general cyber-bullying now have. It does need awareness. At the same time people need to take the stance of even though its not happening to me- its still a problem. Closing your eyes doesn’t make it go away and doesn’t lessen its importance because you’re not directly involved. Some day it could be you at the victim end of things. I watched a video not too long ago about YouTube trolls and how to deal with them from  a convention panel and someone mentioned people who did that were jealous of the success of those they trolled so they had to put them down and do that. I think no matter what medium you create on this applies, often these people do pop up because there is something they are jealous of since often you hear of them harassing the most successful, or the coolest ideas, or those who have made it in some fashion in their field. They want to put you down and make you feel low about what you do in order to make themselves feel better or just get people to stop doing what they’re doing. Don’t stop- you’re not alone even if it is just people doing the same as you, blocking and reporting you’re not alone.

Maybe one day we can get back to the whole- if you can’t say anything nice stage but not yet sadly. We need to remember that behind these bright screens and flat type script we are people with the same emotions. Medium doesn’t change that and as such sometimes words are the sharpest knives people can wield. Okay I’ve meandered through this in my own rambling way long enough. The short version: Enough is enough, add your voice to those against these actions and act against them in your own tactful way, key word tactful. Don’t go slinging their own stuff right back at them in the same way though you might want to.

 

Read An Ebook Week and Voting

Quick note as I un-bury myself from an avalanche of school work I’ve fallen under since I have finals this week to announce I put Vengeance in on the Read an Ebook Week on Smashwords. Use the code of REW25 to activate the promotion over at this link. Enjoy!

Also do me a huge favor and vote for Kakri’s cover for Best Cover of 2014 over here. Kakri is entry number sixty-nine. First round voting closes on the tenth so vote asap and thanks!

Giveaway!

Kicking off this Valentine’s Day with a little giveaway, not sure how many are over on Facebook still (especially after my whining about it) lol. Anyway head over here, for your chance at one of two free e-book copies of Vengeance of Segennya. Good luck and hope everyone is having a nice and love filled Valentine’s Day!