Monday, March 30, 2015

Squeaky Fucking Clean

Alright, so I've been keeping up on the Clean Reader app controversy raging in the writing world right now, and at this point, I'm ready to thrown in my opinion. The Clean Reader app, for those who haven't heard (and what rock have you been under?), is an app that people can download to selectively edit swear words and other terms (like penis, vagina, and so forth) into "clean" words ("damn" to "darn," for instance). There are several levels of "clean" the reader can choose, and this app is ostensibly to protect a reader's delicate sensibilities from having to see words that offend them.

Motherfucker, please.

Ok, before I dive into what I think of the premise of the whole thing, let me address the controversy. I have seen some authors screaming that this is just the first step toward complete censorship and, of all things, book burnings. Yes, you read that right--book burnings.

To that, I say: That escalated quickly. And that's a mighty slippery slope we're getting all worked up over.

I don't think an independently-created app is going to be the ultimate cause of outright censorship or book burnings. Especially not book burnings. You see, book burnings are generally orchestrated and carried out by ignorant religious zealots who think they are protecting themselves from the evils of said book, while in reality fueling the intrigue and interest in the content of said book, leading their precious speshul snowflakes to sneaking off and enjoying Harry Potter despite the zealots' overwhelming misplaced hate of the book in question.

This app is not going to cause that. The zealots' inherent idiocy will accomplish that just fine all on its own.

That's akin to saying since gay people can get married, we will now start seeing people marrying cars or dogs. While this belief is ludicrous in so many ways, for this blog post, the point is that it's not ever going to come true. Ever. Never ever, not in a million years.

Same with Clean Reader. The logical fallacies inherent in believing it's going to result in the censoring of books and setting books afire is a stretch. Please see the failed Tipper Gore vendetta against metal music in the '80's if you need reassurance about this.

Now, onto Clean Reader itself.

Clean Reader is dancing on the fine line of copyright infringement. By essentially editing a work to be "cleaner," it is not only altering how the story is read, but the depth of context the "unclean" words provide. This changes the story in many ways, including nerfing a character (if you're a gamer, you know what "nerfing" means. If you're not a gamer, it essentially means making something easier so all the wusses stop complaining about how hard it is to beat a boss or level up or whatever), to easing the gloom of a particular scene, to removing all sexiness from an erotic scene.

It doesn't just change the words, it changes the entire read. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what we should be focusing on. Not non-existent never-to-occur-but-highly-inflammatory imaginary catastrophes.

Clean Reader apparently started as a result of the creators' daughter reading a book she enjoyed, but found the swear words in the book made her uncomfortable. Instead of having a conversation with their daughter about the swear words, their place in the story, and why they made her uncomfortable--you know, parenting--they decided their speshul snowflake should be shielded from such words. The creators took this idea further by realizing that there were other speshul snowflakes in the world who might be traumatized by "unclean" words, and in order to help these speshul snowflakes hide from reality, they invented Clean Reader. That way, all these speshul snowflakes could read any story in the way they would see it written.

And that's the crux of it, right there. They are reading the story the way they want it written. Not the way the author wrote it. And that's bullshit.

An author paints with words. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph is crafted as carefully as a sculptor shapes his/her work. We don't just throw in swear words for the shock value--they are an integral part of the story, whether it's to convey strong emotion, or it's part of a character's personality, or because the scene is meant to be so fucking smoking hot that we're looking for our significant others, naked, by the end of it.

Clean Reader takes all that away. By changing words into something the creators of the app consider "clean," they are removing that emotion, that personality, that undeniable hotness, and that changes the story.

And changing the story is fucking horseshit.

My main character, Sanaan, is foul-mouthed. Not all the time foul-mouthed, but she swears. A lot. Is her swearing absolutely necessary? I suppose in the grand scheme of life, it isn't. But then Sanaan wouldn't be who she is. 

Sanaan is volatile, temperamental, and has a hard time controlling her temper. Scratch that, she rarely, if ever, controls her temper. She lets that motherfucker loose like a crossbow bolt to the heart, hurling that temper--and the resulting words--at her target with the precision of a martial artist's punches. And that is who she is.

Having her say, "OH MY GOODNESS, you've got to be fudging shooing me!" has a much different feel than "OH MY GOD, you've got to be fucking shitting me!" With the first sentence, you've taken away her explosiveness, the punch of her response. You don't get to feel her incredulity or her volatile reaction, and you've lessened the impact of her words in the scene. In other words, you've effectively castrated my character.

And castrating my character is a huge fucking NOPE.

As I've said before--if a book isn't written the way you want it written, tough shit. Write your own goddamn book the way you want to write it and leave mine alone. Clean Reader has just taken this to a whole new level, by actually altering my story so some wussy speshul snowflake can feel good about themselves reading the word "bottom" instead of "penis" (I am not joking here--from what I understand, all genitalia is replaced by "bottom" with this app. Let's digress for a moment--"Her bottom was hot, wet, ready to be impaled by his throbbing bottom." After you're done laughing, take a moment to let the implications of that soak in).

To the creators of Clean Reader, I have this to say: You don't have the right. You don't have the right to change a story because you--and ostensibly others--can't be bothered to actually parent your children, or because you believe you are too goddamned wholesome to see such words. It is not up to the authors to allow a complete change of their stories in order for others to feel comfortable reading them, it is up to YOU, the consumer, to decide whether or not to read a book based on your personal preferences. It is not your right to castrate a work because your tender sensibilities can't handle it. If that's the case, read something else. Or write your own fucking book the way you want it written, and leave everyone else's works alone.

My writing does not cater to tender speshul snowflakes, nor will it ever. And the fact that you think you have the right to alter my story so that it does cater to tender speshul snowflakes is unacceptable and infuriating. It's MY STORY, not yours, and if you can't handle my story as it is, you can go fuck yourself.

That's right, you can go fuck yourself. Here's a handy meme I suggest you save for reference, and any time you think about editing out a swear or other "objectionable" word from someone's writing that you have no business fucking with, follow the instructions in this meme:




Monday, March 23, 2015

The Human Rainbow--Video Edition

I did not make this video, the lovely people from lovehasnolabels.com did. But it is a beautiful and touching way to express the same things I wrote about.

Give it a watch, you'll love it.





"Say What?" Chaotic Stinking

(Seen in actual published novels. !!!)

"She entered the fray, reeking havoc all over the place."





Who knew chaos and ass-whipping smelled so damn bad? And to think one person could be the cause of all the foul odors is, well astounding. Perhaps our character ate a ton of garlic, or eggs, or onions, or asparagus. Perhaps she was sprayed by a skunk before doing battle.

Or maybe, just maybe, she hasn't showered in a couple weeks. 

Regardless, we all know that nothing clears a room faster than the arrival of a potent stench, so +10 points to our heroine for discovering the most efficient way to defeat her enemies--by releasing that onion-garlic-egg silent-but-deadly right in the nick of time.

*Wreak, and you're welcome.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Human Rainbow

The human rainbow; that glorious world of the diversity of the human race. I'm talking about more than just skin color here--religion, culture, style, all of it. The many different ways in which we express ourselves, keep our faith (or lack of, in the case of atheists), celebrate important occasions, all of it. It's truly a wonderful thing to behold.

Most of the time. It becomes ugly when one group seeks to inflict misery on another group simply because they are different.

I don't understand why some groups feel threatened by another group's differences. Let's look at skin color, for instance. Being a particular shade isn't inherently better or worse than being some other shade. And, as you can see in the picture below, we come in varying shades of "tan," for lack of a better word, ranging from a beautiful ebony-black to a pale white.


That picture is beautiful. In it, we can literally see the human rainbow, and all the gorgeous shades that comprise it.

Hating someone simply because their shade of tan is different than yours is, well, idiotic. That's like hating a cat because it has white fur with gray patches instead of orange patches. The different colored fur does not indicate one of the cats is better than the other. It is just different, and they are both beautiful.

Same with people. But skin tone isn't the only thing some people get in a tizzy of hate over.

Religion is another biggie, and it's equally as absurd a thing to hate an entire population for as skin color. Yes, there are religious extremists who do horrible things. NO, they are NOT indicative of the entirety of the population that follows that religion. No one religion is better than another--all have their strengths, their faults, and their nutjobs. ALL of them. Saying all Christians are X, and all Muslims are Y, and all Hindus are Z is evidence of very limited, very basic, and very wrong thinking.

Let's take Christianity, for example. There are so many variations of the religion that there's no way you can actually lump all of the people that follow them into one gigantic whole. We have the Westboro Baptist Church, whom most other Christians decry as not being "true" Christians (whatever that means), to much more moderate and accepting branches. But they're all Christians.

Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Paganism, to name just a few other religions (there's loads more out there) are just as varied and different within their umbrella designation. There are, believe it or not, extreme Buddhists. There are fundamentalist Pagans (how that even happened, I don't know, because Paganism IS so very diverse, but whatever). You can't judge the followers of these religions based on the actions of a few, because those few do not represent the whole. 

But as a whole, these religions are beautiful. Even atheism is beautiful, because the atheists' lack of belief provides a great counter-balance to the influence of religion in our society. Atheism reminds us that the laws and the world aren't all about what your particular religion believes--it's about everyone

I don't know what's so threatening about your neighbor being a Muslim when you're a Pagan. I don't know why we can't accept that someone having different beliefs doesn't make them wrong, it just makes them different. If we can accept that we all have varying ways to express ourselves--through style, clothing, house decor, etc., then why can't we accept religious differences the same way? My spirituality is not your spirituality. The way I express my spirituality is different from how you express yours, and that's ok. We're neither of us right or wrong--what applies to me does not necessarily apply to you. We simply are who we are.

Which leads me to the debate about gay marriage and related issues. Gays and lesbians, queers and transgendereds, are simply being who they are. They are not threatening anyone; their existence doesn't somehow invalidate your own existence. They love who they love, they live how they live, and that's ok. Hating them for being their authentic selves makes no sense. They aren't hurting you and they aren't bringing about the apocalypse (it's amazing the powers some fundamentalists believe the LGBQT community possess. You're apparently superheroes, all of you). They simply are, and they add to the beauty of the human rainbow.

And that's what this all boils down to--diversity. It is a most fantastic thing, when you sit down and really think about it. The infinite variety of ways the human race expresses itself, invents itself, and is their authentic selves is truly amazing. We are on a (relatively) small ball of rock on the outermost arm of our galaxy, around a not-so-unusual sun, suspended in the vast void of space, and we are alive.

We are alive and we thrive and we grow. We learn and we advance. Yes, we have our flaws, but the fact we even exist is almost miraculous. And the fact that we exist in such a beautiful spectrum of culture, color, religion, language, and love is even more amazing.

So stop the hate. In the grand scheme of things, we humans, collectively, are a torch in the night. We should be aiming to light the way, not burning down all that makes us so unique.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freedom of Speech Does Not Equal Freedom From Consequences

If you haven't heard, Elton John and Dolce & Gabbana are having a bit of a feud. This is because Dolce & Gabbana publicly stated that they didn't believe in "synthetic" children produced by IVF, and further stated that gay people shouldn't raise kids. Elton John took exception to this (after all, he has two children conceived by IVF), and started a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana. Dolce & Gabbana also tried to institute their own boycott of Elton John, but so far, Sir Elton is way ahead in the boycott race.

Now, Dolce & Gabbana are confused, and their supporters are confused. What are they confused about? They are wondering why Dolce & Gabbana don't have the right to say what they want. This keeps cropping up, with people simply appalled that Dolce & Gabbana can't freely espouse their feelings about a given subject.

But there shouldn't be any confusion here. You see, Dolce & Gabbana most surely did freely espouse their views. What they don't get is that, once they've freely shared those views, everyone else on the planet is free to share theirs in response.

That's right, Dolce & Gabbana--freedom of speech does not protect you against the words of the masses who were angered and offended by your speech.

And we see this all the time, especially with celebrities and government officials. They say something the general public takes serious exception to, and then are surprised when the general public buries them under a flood of fiery replies. The supporters of these people are always crying about freedom of speech and how everyone has a right to say what they want. Literally, they are blown away that so much anger and vitriol is lobbed at someone who, say, thinks women shouldn't be allowed to work, and their standard tactic is claiming a violation of the freedom of speech.

But, you see, freedom of speech does not mean you can say something, and everyone else is forced to simply accept what you said without comment. Everyone else has a right to free speech too, and they have the right to call you a blithering idiot for whatever it was you just said.

People collectively need to stop thinking that the right to say a thing protects them from any potential backlash once that thing is said. It doesn't. Just like having the right to jump off a bridge does not protect you from the consequences of dying when you slam into the ground below, the right to open your mouth and spew forth bullshit does not protect you from the fury incited in others by said bullshit.

So, if you've the balls to say something idiotic, especially if you're a celebrity, government official, or hell, just on the interwebs, then you'd best have the balls to deal with the consequences. If "your mouth is writing checks your body can't cash" applies to you, then you'd be better off sitting down and shutting the fuck up.

Be an adult and own your words. If you believe that strongly in whatever you said, then you should be strong enough to withstand any hate thrown your way. Can't handle the hate? Then keep your trap shut.

Or, better yet, DON'T BE A BACKWARDS, IGNORANT ASSHOLE, Dolce & Gabbana. When you aren't a backwards, ignorant asshole, things you say are more likely to not incite the rage of the masses, and you're much more likely to feel the love and support of the people. That's also a fairly simple concept to grasp--DON'T BE A DICK, and hate will tend to stay away.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Your Rights End Where Mine Begin

Right, so there's a ton of stuff that's been going through the courts--like gay marriage, contraception coverage, and abortion rights, to name a few--whose "conflict" hinges on one single thing--religious belief. If it wasn't for the religious belief aspect in these situations, the conflict would more than likely not exist. Or, if it still existed, would be in such a marginalized percentage of the populace as to be non-existent.

And here's where we get to the meat of my post. Let me say this loud and clear for the world to see:

Your belief does not trump everyone else's rights.

It's that simple. Kinda like how in some holy books (the Bible, Quran, Torah) it's ok to stone your neighbors to death for some sin, or murder your own children over disobedience, or otherwise commit grievous bodily harm upon someone for something. Do you get to do that? No? Why the hell not?

Oh yeah, because the law says you can't. Otherwise, it would still be happening.

You see, I respect your right to have your beliefs (or lack of, in the case of atheists). You can worship whatever you want pretty much however you see fit. But when your beliefs start infringing on my rights, then we have a problem.

You see, not everyone is of the same religion--or of any religion at all (the aforementioned atheists). If you don't believe gays should get married, then by all means, don't marry someone of the same gender. If you believe abortion is a sin, then by all means, don't get one. If you believe taking contraception causes abortion (a belief that has been soundly disproven by scientific fact, but whatevs), then by all means, don't take it.

But you have exactly zero rights to tell me I have to follow the same.

And this is where it breaks down for a lot of religious folk. They cry about their rights being infringed upon, claim some war against their religion is occurring all over the place, when the opposite is true. You see, your rights end when they infringe on my rights. Let's repeat: your rights end when they infringe on my rights.

This is why, for instance, stoning your neighbor to death for working on a Sunday is illegal. My neighbor's right to do as he/she pleases on a Sunday trumps any religious belief that he/she should not do certain things on a Sunday. It's that simple. It's also why you can't sell your daughters into slavery or force your daughter to marry her rapist. 

Easy peasy.

Being made to follow laws that apply to the secular good of people doesn't infringe on your religious rights. The fact that abortion is legal, for instance, does not infringe on your personal decision not to get one. But what these people are trying to do is claim that things like abortion being legal infringes on their religious beliefs, and therefore should not be legal.

It doesn't work that way. You can't claim impingement of your religious belief as a way to shove that religious belief down everyone else's throat. And here is the real war--it's not one waged against religion by the rest of the populace; it's one waged by religion against the rest of the populace.

I don't know why this is such a hard concept for people to grasp. This is so simple, really. Not everyone believes the same thing, therefore religious belief should not be legislated into law. Secular law should apply to the land, free of religious intrusion, so that everyone's rights are protected. 

And for those who disagree, I will put one question to you, and one question only:

Is your particular God so weak that he/she/it is unable to take care of the problem him/her/it self?

Ask yourself that, especially given the right to free will most religions claim their God(s) gave the people. If you feel your God is so weak that he/she/it can't handle it him/her/it self, then maybe it's not God that's driving you.

Maybe it's your own need to hate and persecute, and your God(s) is just a convenient excuse for it. And I will say I believe this to be especially true in the case of gay marriage, given the level of animosity and brutality aimed toward people who simply love who they love.

So follow your religious beliefs all you want. Do or don't do as your religious edicts command. But do not under any circumstances expect to force those same strictures on me, or any of the other billions of people on this planet. Stop trying to legislate your belief into law--scratch that. Stop trying to legislate your hate into law under the guise of religious belief. It will not be tolerated, and those of us who believe in the good of all vs. the good of one group of religious believers will continue to work to ensure that secular rights are applied to everyone, regardless.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Know-It-Alls are Assholes

I got rather jacked over this article last year, but decided to let it go because I had other things to worry about. But then I came across it again, and got jacked all over again. So now I'm saying something about it.

I'm sure the author of this article has seen her fair share of truly whiny and "entitled" authors who can't figure out why their book isn't a bestseller two hours after they've uploaded it to Amazon. I get that, because I've run into a few of those myself. HOWEVER, apparently all of us who complain at some point about the unfairness of it all are lumped in with whiny, unmotivated authors. We aren't doing enough, she claims, so it's entirely our own fault that our books aren't getting noticed.

Let's take a peek at what this professional states is a MUST for those of us trying to get our work noticed (taken straight from the article hyperlinked above. My comments are in red.):

-- a spectacular book (professionally edited, formatted, designed, proofed) (Read: "lots of $$$$" I've seen truly atrocious books become extremely popular because of the marketing hype behind them. So having a spectacular book isn't really a requirement; the $$$$ IS.)
-- reviews (minimum 25) within the first few weeks 
(And how, pray tell, does one get that many reviews if you're not already noticed? Either by recruiting friends and family, or having a great marketing campaign, which equals $$$$)
-- beta or ARC readers before you release 
(This is doable through friends/social media buddies. Otherwise, you're spending $$$$)
-- an optimized website (professional graphics, social media icons, key wording, HTML, CSS for faster loading, etc... all to increase your SEO). Not sure what it means? Look it up. 
(Again, we're back to $$$$. So far, we've racked up HUNDREDS of $$$$ in this list of "requirements.")
-- an active blog (once weekly minimum) 
(Doable)
-- a book trailer (share on your own site, social media and YouTube) 
($$$$)
-- participate in memes like‪ #‎MondayBlogs‬ or chats -- meet cool peeps, learn, promote others 
(Doable)
-- interactive social media (not spammy) at minimum Twitter, Facebook and Google+ (important for your Google ranking) following readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, book clubs 
(Doable to a point, otherwise you have to be independently wealthy and therefore rolling in free time and/or can hire someone to do it all for you. So, time and $$$$)
-- groups (important to establish connections with peers) Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ 
(Again, with the time and $$$$ if you want to spend the time this author thinks you should be spending.)
-- an eBook version (duh) Don't care if you hate eBooks. What do your readers want? 
(Uh, that's how most of us already publish?)
-- a virtual blog tour (won't sell books. DOES increase visibility, SEO, reviews, connections with readers and bloggers, and Google Ranking) 
(Oh, virtual blog tours. MOAR $$$$)
-- Google AdWords (get advice on how to do it correctly, study and research, or pay someone to do it for you), or FB or Goodreads or blogger ads. Something! 
($$$$)
-- book clubs 
(Possibly doable, unless you're like me and THERE AREN'T ANY NEARBY)
-- book signings 
(Only doable if you've already gotten somewhere with your writing, else it's a great big flop/bookstores don't want to have you/whatevs. Again, we have to spend a minimum of about $1000 to creep an inch closer to this point.)
-- swag (bookmarks, pens, postcards, etc) 
(Sigh. $$$$)
-- guest blog guest blog guest blog (and not only about your book and how wonderful your toenails are) 
(Well, back to the "you have to be noticed before you get here," which takes $$$$)
-- interviews (give and do for others) 
(See the comment immediately above. $$$$)
-- don't argue with reviewers (from The Author CEO Naomi Blackburn) 
(Everyone should already be doing this, and if you are arguing with reviewers, SHAME ON YOU!)
-- giveaways, promotions, etc. 
(I'm getting tired of repeating myself. $$$$)
-- email newsletter (aka, email marketing) 
($$$$ MONEY MONEY MONEY $$$$)
-- Give back, for fuck's sake. Stop talking about yourself all the damn time. 
(Totally doable, and should be done without being told!)

In other words, all us self-pubbed authors frustrated with getting our work out there have only ourselves to blame for not having unlimited money and time to throw at promoting ourselves. We are "whiny" and we are "assholes" because we didn't starve ourselves and our families in order to get on that book tour. We are lazy because we don't spend every second of our free time on social media because--GASP!--we have the audacity to have jobs and families and lives and can't devote every second of every day "interacting."

Not to mention those of us with disabilities that make it literally impossible for us to do all of it all the time. But we're just failing ourselves, you know. It's all our damn fault for not being independently wealthy or in fantastic health or whatever it is that's holding us back. And in reality, according to the list above, what's really holding us back is our reluctance to live in a shack and starve in order to fork over all our hard-earned dough to marketing ourselves.

So, forgive me if I sometimes get despondent over not having the money to make money. I'm so sorry that I have a disorder/disability AND A JOB that makes it difficult for me to hang out on social media 10+ hours a day to get my interaction in. I'm so fucking sorry that I've struggled my whole life and find it very, very difficult to become something as an author, regardless of how good people think my books are, because my money is limited. So goddamned sorry that my particular circumstances--which are identical to a HUGE percentage of struggling self-pubbed/indie authors' circumstances--are so goddamned rant-inducing.

So sorry.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don't Be That Author

Look, I'm all for writing what you love. YA, romance, fantasy, erotica, mystery, a combination of those, whatever. Definitely write what drives you, write what you have a passion for. Stay in one genre, branch out to others, invent your own, go for it! 

But please, for the love of all that's holy, be original.

Let me elaborate by first going to what appears to be a completely different topic. The rise of self-publishing through sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and others has been phenomenal. It's given authors whose works would otherwise never see the light of day a chance to have their novels read and enjoyed (or not enjoyed, whatever the case may be) by millions of people the world over. Self-publishing takes out the middleman, and gives everyone a shot at making it.

The downside of this, of course, is the sheer glut of people looking to make it. You've got great authors, so-so authors, and horrible authors (you know the ones--you wonder if they've ever seen a dictionary, and for whom "editor" is a foreign concept). Snagging an interesting-looking indie book is ultimately a risk readers take--you never know what you're going to get.

However, one thing you are almost guaranteed to get is the same damn plotline over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. The rise of self-publishing means there has also been a rise in writers all writing the Exact. Same. Story. This is especially true in the romance, fantasy, and YA genres, and it's old. Very old. So old, that these plotlines have gray hair, wrinkles, and one foot in the damn grave.

So incredibly worn are these plotlines, that I have stopped reading most books published by independent authors. I just can't take the unoriginality anymore.

I talk about this somewhat in my post about strong female characters, but plan on going into further detail here. Why? Because it's my blog and I can.

So, we all know that stories follow a basic pattern--you have the character in their normal world, something happens to change it all, whether that's a conflict or threat to their species' existence or whatever, obstacles to overcome, and then the resolution of whatever it was. That's the basic pattern and we all stick to that pattern, and that's fine. What livens up the pattern are the plot twists, surprises, and mystery. Many of us manage to accomplish this. The vast majority of us do not, and instead rely on worn-out themes and old tropes to write a story.

Oh, the male MC and female MC hate each other? I'm willing to bet by Chapter 5 they're banging like rabbits. 

Oh, your story is about werewolves? I'm willing to bet there's a whole lot of focus on who's an Alpha and who's a Beta and who's an every other letter of the Greek alphabet. (Ok, to be fair, most authors don't get past Beta, but you get my point.)

Story is about vampires? $1,000,000 says they're either tortured "I'M A MONSTER" emo souls, or they are sadistic and animalistic with no real personality, other than evil, eviller, or slightly less evil.

It's a murder mystery? I bet it's the one guy who no one (except every reader with a brain) expects but who acts super-shady every other scene. (We'll discuss foreshadowing in another post.)

If you're at all familiar with Metalocalypse, you'll get this. Otherwise, get familiar with Metalocalypse, that show is funny as hell:


Ok, not me specifically, but again, you get the point. For instance, I actually caught some flak because my male and female MCs got together with very little fuss. There was some fuss, but not the fuss you'd expect from every other romantic situation out there. There was no triangle. They didn't hate each other. One character had some issues concerning vulnerability, but got over it. That was all the fuss.

And I did it that way on purpose. You see, I'm sick of long, drawn-out romantic bilge. And I certainly didn't want to write a romance the way nearly every other author in existence wrote it. I see no reason why romance has to be all tortured and agonizing and argumentative all the damn time. Why does there have to be misery, or a love triangle, or some other kind of depressing crap? WHY CAN'T IT BE NICE, especially when the book is most assuredly not a romance and more like an action-adventure novel?

Why do werewolves have to live in packs? Why does there have to be Alpha that has to be challenged and there's some kind of fight to the death for the title? WHY?

Why can't vampires actually enjoy their vampireness without being evil? Do they always have to be so damn tortured? (Please see my novels for that exact refreshing breath of vampire air.) 

For that matter, why do vampires and werewolves always have to hate each other? 

Why can't the killer act more like Dexter and manage to keep everyone off his/her trail? Why can't you actually surprise me, dear authors, with who the killer is?

These are the kinds of questions that plague me. And, authors, they should be plaguing you too.

In other words, stop writing what you're reading. Don't get me wrong--reading is a great way to get inspiration, but stop writing exactly the same thing everyone else is writing. Come up with something new. Like, new new. So new, it's shiny and sparkly and makes your readers go Oooooooooh when they see it.

Indie authors who have managed to pull this off for me include Helen Boswell, Jason Cantrell, Dan Rix, Paul Jones, and Michael R. Hicks. There's more, but those are the authors I can remember right offhand without going through my enormous library. They write about stuff we've all seen before--aliens, magic, demons, angels, the apocalypse--but they do it in such a unique way, with such an original spin to their stories, that I am well and truly impressed. Their imaginations are not regurgitations of what's already out there glutting the indie book market. No, their stories are fantastic and a true credit to writing outside of the box.

Those are the kinds of writers you want to emulate. And by "emulate," I don't mean write the same exact story with slightly different characters. I mean you should emulate them in that you come up with your own spin, discarding all the worn-out dirt-stomped predictable plotlines and creating something truly interesting and different.

So that's your challenge for today to everyone who is guilty of this peeve of mine. Write something different. Do something daring, come up with a new mythology, really make that killer so damn good that I never figure out who it is until you slap me upside the face with it, M. Night Shyamalan-style. Give me a story I can't predict, one where by page 10 I'm still hooked, and where I haven't got the whole thing figured out and can tell you exactly what's going to happen, including the ending.

Surprise me, surprise all your other readers, and stop making me regret all those free downloads that I can't get rid of and that I've only read 1% of because they were so yawn-worthy or in such desperate need of an editor as to be unreadable. They are clogging my Kindle library, dear authors. I'd rather my library was clogged with goodness. So...

CLOG MY LIBRARY WITH GOODNESS. *cracks whip*


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Invisible

That's how I feel, in so many ways. Every day is a struggle, every day is a new round of weird symptoms and fighting to keep going. Every day is another day of pain, another day of crushing fatigue, another day of wondering when, and if, this is ever going to end.

It's suspected that I have rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder. It doesn't just affect my joints--it attacks various parts of my body, including my inner ears. That results in near-constant vertigo and dizziness, all day, every day. 

Imagine it, if you would, waking up in pain every day, staying in pain every day, constantly fighting the urge to sleep, and terrified a wave of vertigo is going to hit as you're walking down the stairs. Imagine sitting at your desk, so dizzy you think you're going to puke, and still having to remain upbeat and do your job. Depression and anxiety are also eating away at you, a result of all the things going wrong with your body.

That's me. That's me every day, 24/7. But my disorder and--dare I say--disability isn't something you can see, and probably not something you'd even notice looking at me. It's an invisible disease, one that is wrecking my life in almost every way imaginable.

On top of that, I've become invisible to others. Not everyone, mind you--there are some absolutely fantastic friends, both old and new, who have been absolutely supportive and non-judgmental, even when I've disappeared because I've been wrapped in a nightmare of depression (You guys know who you are, and THANK YOU). But there are others who have quietly faded away, despite their former assertions of friendship, and I am essentially invisible to them now.

And that hurts. It doesn't help, knowing you've got this huge fight ahead of you--a lifelong fight, mind you, against a disorder that is most likely going to shorten my lifespan and create even worse suffering in my old age, for some of the people who claimed to forever be there just leave you, abandon you, like so much trash alongside the road.

It makes you attack yourself, in your darkest moments. You tell yourself it's because somehow you're not worthy of their friendship, that your disorder--which you have no control over--somehow makes you less of a person, both to the supposed friends and society at large. 

It's not a fun place to be, invisible. Invisible disorder, invisible to people who supposedly cared about you, just...invisible.

Again, I thankfully have some steadfast friends who are unwaveringly there for me, and I can't express my gratitude enough to them. They are what have kept me going, and have helped me deal with the issues that plague me, both physical and mental.

My writing has suffered as a result, and I know this. I haven't been able to write as much because of everything that's been going on. So forgive me, readers, for the delay. I am working on it--again, with the help of the lovely people I mentioned above, I'm starting to get back there. But it's a long, rough road, and I can't guarantee I'll be done with the books anytime soon. I promise you though, I am working on it.

I guess the moral of this story is to not assume what others' lives may be like. Spread kindness as much as possible, because you have no idea what struggles another person is going through. Many people are invisible, like me, their disorders and battles just as hidden as mine. And cherish the friends that are always there for you no matter what. There are too many people in the world who will drop you faster than you can blink the second you are anything but "normal," whatever their definition of "normal" might be. Keep those people close to your heart, and be there for them as much as they are for you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pets are People

So, today I read another horrifying story about people's pets that breaks my heart. In this case, about 40 dogs have gone missing from a county in Texas over the span of a few months. Theories about what's happening vary, but in my humble opinion, dogfighting is probably the most likely explanation. Family pets are often stolen to be used as bait dogs in dogfighting, and it's disgusting.

This is why I am a strong advocate for changing the classification of pets. Currently in most of the country, pets are considered property. And what is "property" in the minds of the masses? Something you can do whatever you want to.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Scoop

Ok, so let me start by saying I'm sorry I haven't been on for a while. Depression has a way of doing that to me; I tend to withdraw from people, and try to deal with the situation as best I can. Unfortunately, the dealing part isn't really working out.

This is what's happened:

The fiancé, as most of you know, has been very sick for a while. It has gotten worse. While we now have a definitive diagnosis for it, he had to miss quite a bit of work due to this illness. His work then decided he didn't have short-term disability even though he signed up for it, have refused to pay it, and so that left us without two months of his pay.

I myself am currently getting treated for one or more suspected autoimmune disorders. So I have been very ill as well. Thankfully, where I work is gracious, patient, supportive, and so very caring about it all.

But we are still looking at a ton of financial shortfall. This has led to our car being repossessed. There is no public transportation where we live, so now the fiancé can't get to work at all. Which means even more of a financial shortfall.

We are currently scrambling to find a place to move to that has access to public transportation, and is more affordable. My income alone simply doesn't cut it where we are now. Naturally, finding a place that takes pets is a nightmare in and of itself.

I am not asking for anything more than your good vibes, prayers, thoughts, whatever. There's really no digging out of this right now, and what I could really use is some moral support.

Through it all I've tried to keep writing, but as you can imagine, it's extremely difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, much less do anything I love to do. So Awakening will continued to be delayed, probably until I I can get my life in some sort of order. But I promise to work on it as I can.

Right now, I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know there's got to be one, but for the life of me, I can't find it. The despair is overwhelming, the stress is making me sicker, and I just don't know what to do anymore. And honestly, helplessness is the worst feeling of all.