Ghost Writers

I think I need to get back to writing, I’ve blogged more this past week than in a while. It’s usually a sign that I need to be working on a book.

IN any case, what I want to talk about is ghostwriting.

So, if you go to Upwork, you can see all sorts of advertisements for ghostwriting. I’ve even made a small amount of money, once or twice, ghostwriting short pieces.

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I stopped because it felt so unethical.

I mean, people who are buying words/books… if it’s for a big name… they’re buying THAT PERSON’S words and stories. They want that author’s voice! Or at least I do.

I’m a mimic, I can mimic most writer’s voices in any genre I write in pretty closely, especially if I’ve read them before.

And I’m an editor, author and autistic.

I CAN BLOODY TELL WHEN IT’S A GHOSTWRITER!!

Please, for the love of the very little money I have to spend on books, don’t do this to me.

I get it, maybe most people aren’t going to be able to tell the difference, but *I* can and I’m not the only one by far.

The big5 pubbed book I preordered because it’s one of my favorite authors hit my kindle yesterday and I was excited to read it. I love this character and I love the world the author has created.

I do not love this book, and I have not yet found a book by this author I hated, nor even disliked.

I love this authors work (or whichever ghostwriter she’s had working for her for a while now). I love the worlds, characters, and stories.

I do NOT love what this new ghostwriter is doing with them.

There is something missing from this authors words that I’ve never seen in the name before.

I’m not a big name in publishing, I’m an outsider, probably always will be, so I don’t actually know how often a big name author hires a ghost writer.

Often enough I’d think. In the past year, two big names that I usually read have felt extremely off when I was reading the books.

I may keep a running list of things I’ve never seen this particular author do in her work, just to keep it straight in my head and to use as supporting examples for this post.

Things I’ve NEVER seen this author do in any of her 30 some books I’ve read that I’ve seen MORE THAN ONCE in this one.

Racial slurs

Description of her black character as ‘sun-bronzed’

Geek slurs

Extreme heavy handedness on reconciliation of ‘happy families’ (one of the reasons I’ve loved this author is that she DOESN’T do that.)

She’s also a WoC so I’ve trusted her to get the descriptions of her mixed race characters done in a sensitive way. This book? It’s so white I can’t even.

Graphic words (I don’t mind graphic words, but this author doesn’t have a history of using them).

… and there is just something missing from this book that the previous ones had.

It’s very unhappy making.

I suppose I could be wrong, that it could just be the author trying something new, but I sincerely doubt it.

So much so that I’m not buying the next book.

And I loved this author.

Look, I get it. We writers/authors are in a dog-eat-dog world, but this particular ghost writer just lost my custom for this author.

It’s close, but it’s nowhere near close enough.

As far as those of us who do the ghostwriting? I get that too, we’re most of us hand to mouth, but no.

Just say no. Please.

“Spirit Animals”

It’s my blog, I’ll tell it like I see it.

I’ll preface this by making it very clear that you’re going to easily find some First Nations people who this doesn’t bother. It doesn’t even bother my husband. It does bother me.

With any marginalized group, you’re going to find some people who are hurt by microaggressions and some who are not. That comes under the equivalent of ‘but my black friend isn’t bothered by the N word.’ (Spoiler, you still shouldn’t use the N word unless you’re black!!)

For me… all it takes is the potential to hurt or harm ONE person with my actions/words before I stop doing/using it.

To the meat of it.

People don’t like to find out they’ve been appropriating something.

They REALLY don’t. Especially, I’ve noticed, white and/or white-cultured people.

Today, I’m pointing a finger at white pagans.

I saw something that hurt (the hashtag game of gif your spirit animal) on twitter so I tweeted this:

It happens, every now and again where I’ll point out something that many people actually don’t know. Things like use of the G word in reference to the Romani people is a racial and ethnic slur and people really shouldn’t use it, at all. Or like the above tweet pointing out that the concept behind the words of ‘spirit animal’ is UNIQUE to some First Nations tribes/indigenous peoples.

Yes. It really is. No matter what you WANT to believe.

I… got a rather lot of pushback on something that to me, is very simple.

It’s a microaggression against living, breathing, bleeding peoples still suffering from systemic genocide to keep using the term ‘spirit animal’ in the casual way it’s ALWAYS used.

That is appropriation.

I’m very willing to say that using the term ‘spirit animal’ as a part of a pagan belief system is ALSO appropriation if you have no ties to the tribes who practice such.

*I* don’t even use the term, and my guide showed itself to me in a very clear fashion when I was twelve years old.

Many pagans love to believe that they are part of an ages-old system of belief. I even got the argument that “MANY cultures had spirit animals.”

It’s common enough coming from pagans.

For what it’s worth, I’m a belted priestess and I learned my faith when I was 17. I’m now 41 and I’ve been pagan for more years than I haven’t been.

I’m also a historian (Masters in World History).

While some ancient cultures had things similar to spirit guides, familiars and the like, the concept behind the English words ‘spirit animal’ is uniquely indigenous.

This article breaks it down in a decent way, so I won’t really go into the details.

It honestly hurts too much. I’m not rez raised, but two of my grandparents were. My hubs mom was, it’s still part of me.

Because of my looks, (light skin ranging from dark caramel to ivory depending on the season, blue eyes, dark brown hair) I rarely run across the microaggressions and outright racism so many mixed-race people like me do. That’s called white passing privilege or being white-coded.

I doubt it hurts less to get it more often, in fact, I’m certain it would hurt more. I’m lucky my weird genetics give me white-privilege. I do my best to use that privilege in a way that benefits rather than harms.

Still.

The pushback I got on that tweet actually hurt, which surprised the hell out of me. I’m sitting with my feelings until I can find peace in my heart again.

There’s also, you know, no connection between modern paganism and ancient belief structures.

Modern paganism came about as the result of many factors, but it didn’t even start until the late 19th century. It didn’t gain traction until the 1930s and didn’t really become popular until the 1960s and 1970s.

Christianity wiped out so much of pre-christian faith that what modern pagans follow is (as most faiths are) completely made up out of whole cloth.

That doesn’t negate the belief system, it is a powerful, beautiful thing and I’m happy to claim it as my own. One of the guiding precepts of MOST modern pagan faiths is ‘An it harm none, do as ye will.”

This is one of those things that causes harm. No matter what you WANT to believe, tribal councils and first nations peoples have said, over and over again, this is ours, it hurts when it’s taken from us, please stop using it.

Why is that not enough?

When someone asks you to stop, or hollers ouch, didn’t we all learn at some point that we’re SUPPOSED to say… “I’m sorry, I didn’t know, I’ll do better.”

So many people don’t do that.

But, you know… even the WORD pagan is an appropriation. A deliberate reclaiming that so far, (to my knowledge) no one has complained about. It comes from the Latin, then it migrated to Middle English.

No one has complained, and that I think is the crux of this problem.

When someone complains about something that hurts them, getting defensive is a very wrong thing to do.

Especially if they’re asking you to stop using a term that has meaning to their people.

I’ve been pagan for a long time and a VERY large percentage of pagans are deeply guilty of cultural appropriation. They aren’t going to like hearing that.

Egyptian gods, Celtic deities, Norse pantheon, First Nations spiritual practices (insert mixed groupings of those and others).

I don’t honestly care that much if you FEEL you have a guiding force in your life or what you call it in private. They are, as my husband pointed out, just words. Calling your guide a ‘spirit animal’ doesn’t make it so.

I DO care that y’all stop using in public though. Please and thank you.

Because I just don’t have it in me right now to get into the differences between APPRECIATION and APPROPRIATION.

 

Suffice it to say I can recognize it when I see it.

Using the term ‘spirit animal’ is flat out appropriation and it HURTS PEOPLE.

It’s wrong.

The end.

 

 

 

I’m the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liason for 2017!

Eek!

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Hi! I’m the Municipal Liason for London Ontario for NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully, it’ll be a fun time. It’s not my first go-round on event planning.

I’ve written 5 books, published several and have more coming. I also have a novella and several vignettes in publication. (My books are here, if you’re curious.)

Biggest help other than event planning? I’ve won NaNo before, AND gone on to publish those books. I know what it takes and I can (maybe?) help you do it too.

I’m going to put everything to do with it (links etc.) here as well as on the NaNoWriMo.org forums.

You can find our Regional group and forums here.

So.

I’m a Twitter lover. (I blogged about how I do twitter here)

My Twitter if you want to follow me: @KaelanRhy

First things first is the hashtag for our area. London Ontario Canada, so we’ll tag all posts for the region with #SOLondonWrimo

If you’ve found this site via Twitter, ALL of this info is also available via the NaNoWriMo.org Regional Forums.

The first thing I’ll ask from y’all is to take a survey telling me how often, and where, you want to meet. There are 9 questions.

Survey for where and how many times we’d like to meet.

Author Spotlight & Interview LEIGH M. LORIEN author of JIGS AND REELS

 

I’m pleased to kick off my series of authorial interviews with my friend Leigh who has a book out this week!

I loved JIGS & REELS, it’s a sweet, sexy m/m romance novella. It has voice that leaps off the page and grabs the reader by the throat. I’m picky, and I loved it at beta reading stage, the version I bought is going to be even better. 🙂

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I sent Leigh a list of nosy parker questions and here’s what she said.

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  • What do you write? Queer romance. Meaning I don’t just write cisgender/allosexual characters. I have asexual, aromantic, transgender, and nonbinary characters in the works.
  • Why do you write it? Because I can’t not. Because the world is diverse and I am queer and why shouldn’t I write it? I write because I don’t know how to stop, and there is a community—to which I belong—that desperately needs to see themselves in stories. I’m asexual, but I didn’t realize it until I was 26 or 27. I’ve never seen an asexual character in anything mainstream, and even in indie/not mainstream things, I had to go hunting to find asexual representation. I wonder how different the past ten years of my life could have been if I’d known about asexuality when I was in high school. So I want to help put more queer characters out there, because we need it. (woo, getting deep on the second question)
  • Where do you write? I usually write on my laptop, in bed. This often results in waking up at 2am and realizing I wrote 12 pages of the letter f. Woops.
  • How long have you been writing? I started writing as soon as I could physically write letters and words—I made Sonic the Hedgehog story books when I was 4 or 5 years old—but I developed the habit of writing when I was eleven. I discovered Dragonball Z one weekend, and then, on a four-hour car trip later that same week, I wrote a Dragonball Z fanfiction by hand on a legal pad in the back of my dad’s car. So I have been writing consistently for over 15 years, but I think I’ve been a writer/storyteller since I was a toddler.
  • When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? This is an odd question for me, because I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’ve never actually considered myself an author or taken my writing seriously. It was a hobby, something I do to blow off steam, something I do because the ideas keep popping into my head and I have no way to get them out if I don’t write. About a year ago, I was thinking about picking up a hobby that I could make money from (crafts or something) when I suddenly realized I already have that hobby. And thus began my pursuit of publication.
  • What do you enjoy most about the writing process? – The brainstorming. Coming up with ideas is so much more fun than molding them into things that make sense and stringing them together in a coherent plot. Nothing quite equals the excitement I feel when I’m coming up with new ideas, talking ideas over with other people—hell, I like to talk about/brainstorm other peoples’ ideas as much as I like to talk about my own.
  • Where do you find inspiration? Books, TV, music, movies, real life. My ideas start with the vaguest concept sometimes—an emotion I want to capture, a single line of a song, the dynamic between two people having a conversation in the grocery store, a picture of beautiful scenery. I can’t even do yard work without thinking up ideas for stories.
  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like gardening, hiking, photography, running, and anything that involves cute animals.
  • How many books have you written, and which is your favorite? Why? If you count first drafts, I’ve written five. How many of those will see the light of day remains to be determined. My favorite is probably the one I’m currently revising, which is a contemporary romance with BDSM and an asexual character. The characters bond over steak dinner and a conversation about Star Trek on their first date. I’ve poured a lot of myself into this book.
  • Do you have any advice to other writers/authors? Don’t compare yourself to other writers! It’s not a competition. I know it’s tempting to compare your accomplishments to other peoples’, but don’t. The only person you should compare yourself to, is you. As long as you’re still moving forward, no matter how fast or slow, you’re doing just fine.
  • What do you think makes a good story? Likeable characters. I can let plot holes and worldbuilding issues slip under the radar as long as I’m wrapped up in the characters’ emotions and struggles.
  • As a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up? As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals. As an adult, I realized I don’t have the constitution for that line of work. I’ll stick to adopting too many pets and pay someone else to handle the boo-boos and icky stuff.
  • Do you read a lot? What are your favorite genres? I don’t read as much as I should, but I love urban fantasy, science fiction, crime/mystery, and romance.
  • Where did your love of books/writing come from? I can thank my mother for that. My mother read to me when I was little. She read me a lot of Dr. Seuss, which she enjoys, and she enjoyed reading it to me, so I think I just naturally learned to associate books with joy and fun. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love books.
  • Who are some of your favorite authors who you feel have been most influential to your writing?I can’t point fingers at the authors who got me started on romance, because I blame fanfiction for that, but I can point fingers at some who influenced how I write. When I first started writing around age eleven, my voice was influenced by Douglas Adams and Lemony Snicket. More recently, it’s Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne. That kind of dry, dark, sarcastic, witty humor… except way more queer than any of the above. 😀

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Blurb & Excerpt:

LENGTH: 18,020 words
RATING: flame rating 3

Elijah works in a cubicle, lives with his parents, and never goes on dates. It isn’t an exciting life, but it’s safe and easy and that’s good enough.

Then he meets Peter, a whirlwind of a man who leads a traveling renaissance band. Peter represents everything Eli usually avoids, but his boisterous enthusiasm is infectious… and his band needs a fiddle player.

When Eli agrees to fill in for a weekend, he awakens a part of himself he thought long gone. With Peter’s help, he shakes off the dust that has settled on his soul and remembers how to have fun.

But when the band asks him to join them permanently, is Eli’s newborn sense of adventure — and insane crush on a man he barely knows — enough to make him leave the safety of a life he’s clung to for years?

EXCERPT:

“Wait, what?” My heartrate spiked and I swallowed against a sudden wave of nausea. No one had mentioned this before. Morrison’s? We hadn’t practiced Morrison’s. I knew the tune, but man, I was not prepared for this. The past few days were really pushing the limits of my spontaneity for the week. Month. Hell, I hadn’t been this spontaneous in years. Seeing my anxiety, Peter caught my shaky hand as I reached for a bottle of water. My eyes widened and I glanced around, but everyone else had better things to do than watch my every move.

“Hey,” he said softly, and brought my hand to his lips for a kiss, like an old-fashioned gentleman. “You’ll be great. You know these songs, you’ve been on stage before, nothing is different.”

“No?” I said in a choked whisper. He wasn’t letting go of my hand. His skin was soft, smooth as silk, warm, and dry. Well, it had been dry before he’d grabbed my sweaty mitt. “I don’t know you guys at all. I’m going to fuck up, I’m going to miss a cue or, or, play a song too fast or too slow or get up there and forget how to play everything I’ve ever learned. I’m going to be too stiff, people are going to look at me and think I’m a zombie or something, some kind of weird fiddle-playing corpse, an animatronic fiddler. I don’t move around much, that was something Toby always told me, too. My ex … band leader. Toby. He got on my case, said if I was going to be so still I might as well just sit in a chair for all the more entertaining I was on stage. I have no stage presence. I just –”

Soft fingers touched my lips. He didn’t put any pressure on me, but the mere presence of the touch made me shut up. “Shh,” Peter cooed. He met my eyes and smiled, but it wasn’t an impish, teasing smile this time. It was gentle and earnest. “You’re not going to forget those songs.” The fingers brushed back along my cheek until he cupped my jaw in his palm, thumb coming to rest on my lower lip. Why was I just standing there like an idiot? Do something! Those bright eyes had me hypnotized. I couldn’t have pulled away if I’d wanted to.

And I didn’t want to. It had been way too long since I’d had affection. Hell, even if it had just been last week, I figured Peter would have been able to entrance me. He just had that energy about him, that insane, hell bent for leather, bright-eyed confidence like he could go out the door one day intending to get the newspaper and end up taking over the world. Katie had a similar sort of energy. I was drawn to it like a stupid moth to a lamp. And, much like a stupid moth, I could not actually obtain that energy for myself. I just bounced around it until it became too much to handle and I dropped.

“We’ve had two fiddlers since we got together, and a couple other temp stand-in members,” Peter said, still holding my hand, still caressing my lip with his thumb. “We’re used to adjusting to new members, but I don’t foresee it being an issue. You and I click, musically. You pick up on cues like a pro.”

“Well,” I said, my voice matching his soft timbre, “you’re not exactly subtle.”

Peter laughed. “No time in life for pussy-footing around.” He let go of my hand and brought his other hand up to cup my other cheek, holding my face. He was taller than me, I realized. Not much, but just enough that I noticed when he tipped my face up towards his. He didn’t lean in though, just kept smiling. “What kind of cues are you picking up on right now?”

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I can carry you

A close friend said something like that to me, last week I think.

Actually, what they said was the iconic line from LoTR. ‘Cause we’re both geeks.

“Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” (Samwise Gamgee to Frodo)
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King

 

I’d gone down yet another slide into depression and been a little quiet. A lot of people are very confused about what to do when one of their friends is dealing with a mental health issue.

I mean, especially if you’ve never experienced depression or anxiety before, it can be nigh impossible to figure out how to act or react.

We humans like to fix things, in general. Depression isn’t a ‘fixable’ thing though. Not really. It’s treatable, not really fixable, not in my experience.

Someone saying to me… I see that this is happening for you, I understand, and I can’t carry that feeling for you, but I can be here for you…

That was one of the kindest, most understanding things someone has ever said to me when I’m fighting my own mind to convince myself to keep breathing.

Knowing that, EVEN WITH my depression, that a person (or more than one person) gets that they can’t really help, says they get that, but that THEY’LL STILL BE THERE. (then to prove it)

You have no idea how powerful that can be.

My mental illnesses have been with me most of my life, they’re chronic, and likely will be a complication for me for my entire life.

It’s what trauma does to a person, and honestly, I’ve been doing well for the past ten years or so in coping with it.

It’s only the past couple of years or less that have been so hard that I’ve lost any semblance of resiliency.

It’s costing me a lot. I’m behind on work, on writing, on things I said I wanted to do as per blogs I want to write for. On housework… I’m behind on pretty much every aspect of my life right now. The anxiety that causes is feeding the beast of my depression too.

I’m trying to take it all just one day at and one task at a time.

It’s a challenge to get out of bed most days right now, and keeping myself focused on my work is an even bigger challenge.

I’ll fight my way back, again. But it’s invaluable to know that I have people in my life who not only feel ‘I’ll be there’ but are brave enough to say something that’s going to get through my thick skull to get the message through.

Trust it to be a geek reference that did it.