It's always far too easy to confuse a creative person with the work they do. I'm glad I'm not an actress, because at least half of the people who watch a movie don't seem to realize that actors play characters who are not themselves. That's the whole point of the word "actor." The idea of representing somewhat other than yourself. But far too few people understand this. The character becomes real to us and then we forget the actor is acting. But that doesn't make the illusion anything other than that. An illusion. Actors are not the characters they play, unless they're quite bad actors indeed.
In the same way, I've felt people have tried to view my work over the last decade as a personal expression. In short, that my heroines are me. Their romances are what I'd theoretically like to have; their falsities and errors are mine; if they are shady or make mistakes, that's because I'm a very shady, mistake-ridden person. If they are shy or in pain, that's because I'm revealing my pain to the world; if they're tolerant, their tolerance of that exact thing is a reflection of mine. I've already talked about the problem this created with Alyce, where a resigned, slightly run-over girl is the main character. But it appeared with every one of my books.
To make things worse, a very large number of authors DO write only about themselves, as there are untalented actors who can't act. Some of these authors are just living the dream in their fiction and admit it, but the others are actually trying to write about other people and can't because their writing is so bad. There's nothing but a bad motive in trying to apply that as a sweeping label to any author you run across. That kind of attitude is out of place and in doing it you will make the mistake of not seeing what's actually in their books. Hence people would treat me in an amazing way because they thought I was the heroine they were currently reading about. And I didn't, of course, love an assumption in its essence belittling. Why wouldn't I be a good enough writer to show other people? I don't think you have any proof I'm so amateur.
My stories are complex and I'm actually trying to say something with them. If that preconception that I'm working through or fantasizing about my own situations is removed, the real story in the books is a whole lot easier to see. In most of my stories, I write about situations in which a bad guy is revealed to be a surprise and not who you think. If you're endlessly reading through a lens of, "I bet you showed this heroine as afraid of the lead male because you're afraid of men," you'll miss the point. Like Stormtroopers with random targets, you'll do nothing but miss.
And there will be more updates.
The progress with my books continues. It's been astounding over the last few months, as the website, marketing direction, covers, and book structure grew at light-speed before my eyes. All the exhaustive sorting of my books really paid off. (If there's any idea that I'm unobjective about my stories, that's not true. But more about that in another post.)
For this year I have 3 books scheduled, as well as a short story single release. And that's just old, backlogged material that either didn't make it to publication or was badly presented at first and needs to be redone and done right. I have a number of intriguing new ideas taking shape, but I've got to get all this out of the way first.
And there will be more updates.
Everybody has situations in their lives that require clarification. For me, one is Alyce/Millhaven Castle. There were 3 variations on this same story, appearing in different publications over the course of 7 years. The first two appeared in the original Birthday Present volume and the first edition of Facets of Fantasy. The third, titled Alyce, appeared as a stand-alone in 2014, followed by two other stories. (I later moved these stories and detached them from Alyce. They are not relevant to this conversation.)
From the beginning, readers got some sort of complex about Alyce. When last I checked, I was still listed as the "author of Alyce" on various sites. Since Millhaven Castle was in my first publications, whatever idea people had about the Alyce world was there from the first. Sooner or later they'd mention something about "Millhaven Castle," and when I noticed that my social interactions and friendships invariably, subtly deteriorated afterwards, I started to become skeptical of what readers were really getting out of the Alyce world. Sometimes verbally, always implied, readers started and justified behavior to me--indeed a whole approach to my writing--based on the Alyce world. This made the connection far too personal for my taste. It was just a story, whereas people seemed to think it was close to me in some way it was not.
I'd like to clarify what really happened. Since I was making a story series at the time, and feeling pressure to publish rapidly, I took a few of a pre-existing novel's elements and turned them into a shorter novella. That's ALL. I wasn't trying to say something about myself, my beliefs, how I expected to be treated, or my views on a particular group of people. I just made it shorter from motives of practicality. However, when I got back to the root of the Alyce problem, I realized some sort of bad message had seeped into the stories. Removing the other characters and the full structure of the world had accidentally--and I do mean accidentally--turned it into a slightly different story. At least, in people's minds.
Readers are acutely triggered by tiny, tiny details. Really minuscule things can activate their imaginations and lead them to create things based off of a word, a reference, a dress color, a type of family situation--anything. The longer novel for Alyce, which I am now going to publish as a replacement for these stories, places many of these details in perspective. So if you are still here because you got Whatever-That-Was out of Alyce, you should go away. This story was never about me in any case, and now I'm removing even the story itself, this is a misunderstanding that has come to an end.
And there will be more updates.
Reviews are an important part of a capitalist world. People need to know if something is a lemon, didn't arrive on time, or was just plain junk. Did the book have sensual or violent content that was never mentioned by the author or publisher? Did this seller not send items and then refuse a refund? Was this movie genuinely interesting, with people flooding to state their opinion?
But unfortunately, attention hogs and Spammy insiders have swarmed product reviews. And not just reviews--blogs, blog commenting, fan pages, social media, pretty much any place where an opinion could be shared. Authors have to have many reviews (supposedly) and that means begging for them from people who are honestly rude and unfair. Yes, I'm an author and I'll feel personal about this. But it is really true, as I see when it's done to people other than me. It's honestly rude and unfair. (Or fake-friendly. Beware the fake-friendly little avatar-heads who flood your book or blog with SPAMMY comments that will keep people from taking you seriously. Those people do not really like you!
Why do some books or movies have spectacularly high numbers of gushing reviews and others, though established with a cult fan base for decades, have far fewer? Don't tell me The Force Awakens was more liked than the complete original Star Wars saga which has been around for decades! But the complete saga has only a little over 6,000 reviews on Amazon, the individual movies far fewer. And over 10,000 for The Force Awakens. Why does Frozen have almost 20,000 and movies like Tangled or Snow White have 4,000 and 2,000 respectively? Snow White is still one of the most popular and most loved princesses, after all these years, based on a merchandising poll I saw in a magazine a few years ago. Why isn't this movie soaring to 20,000 reviews?
I've come to suspect spammers. SPAMMERS, spammers, spammers. They show up trying to push something and bury something else. By now I'm secretly sure every book review ever written is about Twilight, and how this book is or is not similar to Twilight or some other young-woman's-cup-of-tea book. It is NOT helpful to me to know whether some screaming little person online thinks this book is the same sort of fat, popular book as Twilight and that's how it should be rated. I don't care if it's like Twilight or not. I want to know what's in it. And this nagging worry about a review's legitimacy does nothing to raise the value of reviews. (Not to mention those USELESS reviews on things like necklaces and DVDs that say the following bites of brilliances: "came on time," "Amazon sold this," "broke" (no details or explanations); "good." Whatever that means.)
So reviews are precious and as a writer I want them. As a consumer I use them. But the spammers are driving me to my limit and I suspect I'm not alone.
To be continued later. There will be more updates.
Singing, dreaming, telling stories . . . I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I love to write more than I love to read, but nothing equals a book that draws me in to find its story. Most recently publication: A Year with the Harrisons, a contemporary comedy about three sisters and a family mystery. Next year's publication: Temmark Osteraith, a futuristic fairy-tale adventure.