So good morning.
My day started with eating part of a bad apricot and not realizing it until after I ate it. I quickly threw it away because I didn’t want to see if there was a bug in there, because I really couldn’t handle knowing I ate a bug. I’m just that kind of queasy. After that, I ate something else to convince myself that it really didn’t happen.
So I am in a relatively good mood today, although I have to work all weekend. Yesterday I signed the final LILY BOUND contract, so that’s good to go. Which means I have two more books to write this year, after I finish DARKNESS RAGING by the end of this month. Those will be FLIGHT FROM MAYHEM — the second in the Fly by Night series, and SOULJACKER — the first in the Lily Bound series. Which means I am a very busy woman. At this time I also have another project on my editor’s desk at Berkley books, and I hope she likes it. Yes I am setting myself up with a lot of work but right now I’m raring to go and excited about everything.
The other day on Twitter a fellow author whom I talk to a lot — Chuck Wendig — mentioned something that hit home. He said it was much easier for a male writer to express opinions on the Internet without getting slammed, than for women writers. He’s right. I have discovered just how true that is over the years. I have had people complain because they say I’m not particularly nice enough when I was just expressing my opinion on something that my male peers can talk about without getting trashed/slammed, etc.
Apparently if you’re female, even having an opinion isn’t always considered nice. I also get chided, especially by men, who tell me to “smile” in my pictures. This pisses me off. Not your call, strange dude whom I do not know. I can smile or not and it’s nobody’s business. Just like it’s not your call to tell women on the street to smile.
Anyway, I could go on but I have work to do this weekend so to sum it up in this: I am tired of not being able to say some of the things on my mind because of the backlash. And some of these things aren’t even all that controversial.
In that spirit, I’m going to address a few things today that I’ve been either asked about or that have come up in the publishing/reader/writer world lately:
First, I’m sorry but if you ask me for help with your writing I cannot give it to you — and I can’t help your friends either. For one thing I have no time to help anyone but the very few people to whom I have already offered my help. For another, legally, it’s a terribly slippery slope for a published writer to read a stranger’s unpublished work (and just because I know your screen name doesn’t make you a friend).
The chance for a lawsuit is always there and my agent and editors advised me not to do so. Which is why I have on my contact page the rule about: do not send me any of your writing because it will be deleted without me seeing it. So no — I cannot help you, I cannot help your friends, I do have writing advice on my blog and you can search for it via the search function.
Second, there has been a lot of kerfuffle lately in the Internet zone that I play in. A lot of authors being accused of things, a lot of authors pulling back from social media because of being attacked — and I’m not talking about bad reviews here. I’m talking about their reputations being smeared, I’m talking about unfounded accusations. Fandom can be a wonderful place and it can be a very scary place. Yes, it’s wonderful to have people absolutely love your work — but that love can quickly turn to hate if you do something to a character that your fans don’t like, or if you make a choice in your writing or even your lifestyle that your fans like. This makes all of us leery.
I truly enjoy interacting with a number of my fans, and I enjoy talking online with people, but it’s getting to be dicey. And I’m going to just say it here: what an author does in their private life is their choice—it’s not a democracy. Even if they talk about it online, that doesn’t mean they are asking for advice. I talk about what my allergies, etc.—sometimes out of frustration—but I’m not looking for anybody to solve the issue. Sometimes I’m just venting, like everybody else does at some point. If I want advice, I’ll make sure to phrase it clearly.
By the same token, what an author does with their series/characters is their choice: it’s not a collaboration unless the author has specifically invited it to be.
The characters and world belong to that author and if they take it down a track that some readers don’t like (and trust me, this will ALWAYS happen—there’s always going to be someone unhappy about how things worked out)—well, the reader can choose to walk away.
I have done that—I’ve stopped reading some series because I didn’t like the turn they took. Hell, that’s why I stopped watching Supernatural after Season 3. I didn’t like the turn the show took. It was absolutely my right not to like it, and to stop watching, but it would not have been right for me to ping the creators of the show and throw a hissy fit and demand, “I HATE this! Stop it and do it MY way!”
I admit I have pulled back, I have pulled back on Twitter, my Facebook page is more of a professional page now, and even though I have a thriving Facebook group that I find absolutely supportive and a fun place to talk to fans in, I am still cautious when I am there. AND, I make certain my moderators watch it carefully. I will not allow it to devolve into a petty and bickering and mean-spirited place.
I just wish people would remember there are human beings behind those screen names.
This brings me to another point. When someone tears down another author and their work to my face, thinking the comparison will make me happy, what they may not realize is there’s a good chance that author is either a friend of mine, or that I might well admire that author. I know a lot of authors. I am friends with a lot of authors. These are my peers. And I sure in hell don’t want to hear my friends being torn apart, especially on my supposedly behalf.
This is one reason why I refuse to allow author and book bashing on my pages and in my groups. It’s fine to say you don’t like a book, but the minute you get into tearing apart the author or trashing the book — I don’t want to hear it. There are plenty of places that encourage that, but it’s not gonna be on my turf.
Third, and this goes with this last point I made: I have no problem with people giving me bad reviews. No, I’m not happy about it, but every reader has the right to dislike a book, including my own. All opinion is subjective, and just because someone doesn’t like my book — sorry, not gonna make me think I write bad books. So if you want to write a bad review about it? Have at it.
However, I really don’t appreciate it when people tag me online to let me know that they have written a nasty review about my books. That’s just rude. It’s like going up to someone and telling them, “I think you look horrible and I don’t like the way you put together your outfit, and you need to know that I think you’re a mess.” Mean, rude, and intrusive.
So, if you @reply me on twitter to tell me that you have written a bad review about my work, knock it off. There’s enough negativity in this world without delighting in making somebody else feel bad.
This is one reason why I stopped looking at reviews that people ping to me and why I seldom RT them. This happens more than you want to think. And, by the same token, please don’t tell me in email or on my blog or in my groups that you saw a horrible review—I don’t need or want to know. I already know I’m roundly trashed. Every author gets bad reviews. It’s a fact of life, but we don’t want or need it rubbed in our faces and if you think that it’s fun to do that, well, I think you need to get a life.
So those are just a few of my thoughts. Not all nice and sweet, but they are honest.
I will however, sum up another honest thought: the vast majority of my readers that I have met have been wonderful people, nice and polite and excited about books, and they have made me smile. For all of those wonderful readers — I say thank you.