Doxxing, authorial behavior and consequences.

Content Warning: Bullying, Harassment, Successful Suicide Mention, Doxxing, Mention of Sex and Kink, Mention of Eating Disorder, Mention of Insomnia, Mention of Vomiting.

Recorded version, if you’d prefer to listen than to read is here.

Now that I’m a bit calmer, and the danger has been removed from the perpetrator’s website, I’ll write a bit about what’s had me in a tizzy for the past 18 hours or so.

Last night, a good friend sent me a DM (direct message) with a link to an author’s blog. Her contact page, specifically, that had a comment on it that outed my legal name and associated it with this pseudonym. The comment had been there for anyone to find since August of 2017. There were massive consequences to this, which I’ll detail later.

Now, I’ve always been scrupulously honest about using pseudos, and my reasons for why. When I made the switch from writing custom kink stories for private clients to writing for publication, a former friend who happened to be a sex worker, and knew I wrote kinky/sexy stories, advised me to use a pseudonym. That made sense to me and I didn’t have a problem with it.

I’ve never been particularly attached to my legal name (I’ve hated it *forever* I’m named after a soap opera star for gods sake and it was the MOST popular name the year I was born. I had 6 people with the exact same name in my class of 30 growing up. We had to go by our last names, like we were in the military, in elementary school.) So I chose a name I really liked and went with that (it’s also a bit of a joke, and a nod to my partner’s Welsh ancestry, very few people, mostly native Welsh speakers get the joke.)

Since coming out as trans, its also become my dead-name, I don’t even use it in real life unless I absolutely have to. The absolutely have to is legal paperwork, I just don’t use it. It has those negative connotations to it too. I can’t afford to change my name, because I’d have to change it in two countries. It’s prohibitively expensive and the process is also terrifying for me. So many gov’t offices, embassies, officials et cetera.

But seeing my legal name still hurts me. Seeing it on this author’s page, one I’d call an enemy, shocked and horrified me. Knowing it had been there for so long made me sick to my stomach. I know, it’s been there for years, why is this bothering me so much now? Right? It’s because of the consequences I mentioned earlier.

Having both my legal name and pseudo also associated with untrue, cruel rumours about me rather sucked.

A few years ago, a young woman was bullied during the lead up to PitchWars, which is a contest for authors to get a mentor and get their work in front of agents. I had nothing to do with the incident except that someone who did happened to respond to both me and the bullying victim. I was a follower of all three of the people involved. This was in my early years on Twitter, and I basically followed anyone who followed me, anyone who was a writer. I figured if you were a writer you were great people and I wanted to know you. It’s what a lot of us writers do when we first find the writing community on Twitter. I’m no longer so indiscriminate in whom I follow/become mutuals with. I can’t be. It’s too dangerous. That’s incredibly clear to me now. So clear.

Later, around the mess with ficfest, (another contest that collapsed under accusations of racism and bullying) I was accused again of having something to do with bullying the victim, who suicided later that same year. I was a ficfest mentor for all of 18 hours. A good friend of mine asked me to co-mentor with her and I jumped at the chance because I wanted to help other writers. 18 hours when I was caring for two vomiting children and coming down with the stomach bug myself because my husband was out of town. So not exactly strolling around on the internet, if you know what I mean. When I was well, I came back online to see that the organizer and some of the former ficfest mentors had bullied the person again.

I was still painted as being part of it, because I was a ficfest mentor. Because I’d wanted, naively, to help other writers and had jumped at the chance to mentor in a bigger contest.

I knew about the suicide within hours of her actions, her friend told me, but the news didn’t hit Twitter for months after and when it did it was a huge mess. Once again, because I’d reached out to the person via a private DM to offer support after the ficfest thing, I was implicated in bullying and in driving her to suicide.

Part of my life mission is to educate people on what bullying is and isn’t. I’ve done hours and hours of Master’s level coursework in education, I have a dual Masters in education and world history. I have all this information on what bullying is and how to prevent it. I was a history teacher in the states, prior to that I was a traveling sexuality educator. It was after I’d gotten out of crime scene investigation, before I became a parent and before we came to Canada. I’ve seen and prevented bullying and I’ve also been bullied most of my life. It’s not anything I would ever be part of.

My brother died from suicide, I would never in a million billion years have something to do with driving someone to make that choice. But it doesn’t stop the rumour mongers. One of the worst of whom is the YA author who had my name on her blog.

To have those two accusations constantly follow me around is particularly cruel. If they could’ve chosen things to label me with that would hurt me most it would be that.

About a year ago, or maybe a little more, I wrote an ill-timed thread on Twitter about author behavior. The thread legitimately had nothing to do with anyone in particular, but because I’d mentioned that someone had soft-blocked me just before writing it, it was associated with being an attack on that person.

Now, I will never understand how allistic people think. To *me* I was talking about authors in general, not anyone in specific, there were no names mentioned, just ‘authors’ but thanks to the same person who hosted my name on her blog for so long, (and others) I was painted as attacking a young woman of colour. This person (the one who had my name on her blog) has a long history of attacking and dragging neurodivergent and/or mentally ill people. She never, ever apologizes for it. Nor, does it seem, does she ever suffer professional consequences for it.

Attacking a young person in general, or anyone of colour is also something I would *never* do. (Aside from it being cruel and bullying and contrary to my very firm sense of honor, I have better things to do with my time, like write books, play games or stare vacantly out of the window at fog, maybe scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush or my tongue.)

I was subtweeted for days, called all sorts of unpleasant things and I received a lot of harassing emails about it. 10 former mutuals (two people who follow one another on social media) didn’t bother to ask me what I’d meant with my thread, they just listened to this other author and blocked me and subtweeted me, and basically made my life a living hell for over a week. Queer people I’d held virtual hands with the night Frump was elected as we all watched in horror. None of them even asked me what I’d meant with my thread, whether it was directed at someone or not, they just assumed and listened to this horrible author. People who weren’t exactly friends, (I use that word sparingly and with care) but were more than casual acquaintances.

Once I finally figured out what people thought I’d said (I mean… jesus, would it have killed someone to reach out to an autistic person and say, hey, these allistic people think you said X, maybe if you didn’t mean that you might want to clear that up?) I both privately and publicly apologized for my thread.

I still, for the life of me, don’t understand how those awful people could think my words on general authorial behavior could be associated with a young woman who hadn’t ever written a book. I mean… she hadn’t written a book? HOW COULD SHE BE AN AUTHOR THAT I WROTE A THREAD ABOUT? The illogic of it all was staggering. But that’s allistic people for you, they make no damned logical sense at all. Sorry allistics, many of you are wonderful, and I mean that, I wish you made sense to me. You just don’t.

I’m mixed-race, mentally ill, queer, autistic, and physically disabled. I’m a published author of queer romance with ownvoices characters and I also don’t lay down about abuse. I have strong opinions that I voice frequently, and I tear apart warrior autism parent’s self-aggrandizing books. I’m not bad to look at and I have a real, recent photo of myself as an AVI. I get (and I expect to get) a lot of harassment of various types including sexual harassment. I get a lot of death threats, some quite inventive.

So that’s why I use a pseudo, it’s got nothing to do with trying to hide who I am. In this industry, my legal name is an open secret anyway because it’s on any query I’ve ever sent. I stopped counting at 500 queries, so you know, a lot of people know my legal name. But most people, most industry professionals, have the decency and honor to keep it to themselves. As is done in any industry where pseudonyms are used.

To out that, to doxx me like that, to host that comment for YEARS on her blog. It’s personally reprehensible to me. Horrific even.

Someone mentioned the possibility that she didn’t know it was there. Anything is possible I suppose, but I highly freaking doubt it.

  1. It was on her contact page, and it’s fully updated to include her agent’s information. I have a fantastic memory when pain isn’t inhibiting recall. My autistic memory is telling me she didn’t get the agent until *after* August 2017. Meaning she had to have seen and approved of that comment. It was the only one on the page! Also, it had been there for years, years! The belief factor of her not knowing it was there kinda fades the longer it’s there.
  2. It was on the contact page, not buried in some random blog post. I glance over my contact/landing page frequently, once every few months, to make sure my professional contact information is up to date, most authors do.
  3. It’s a wordpress site, we all get notifications when we receive comments on our pages. It’s part of the wordpress setup and you have to physically opt out of that option. Most of us don’t bother because we actually want to hear from people about our work. We’re authors, we like to hear what people think.

This author, letting this comment stay there on her page for so long, is directly responsible for the months of harassment I received. Even if the harassment didn’t come from her directly (and I have no proof one way or the other, whether it was her or not). The harassment that eventually made me close my direct messages on Twitter to mutuals only. The harassment that made me take all contact forms (which allow messages from anonymous IP addresses) from my website. (Basically if someone fills in a contact form on a website and sends it in, it looks like it comes from the website, not a personal IP address.) So that the harassers would have to send anything to me from trackable IP addresses so the police could catch them. I had to involve the police with the level of harassment I was receiving. 8 months of death threats, threats of exposing my name, threats of exposing my partner’s and childrens’ names. Where they go to school, my home address…

All because this author had my name/pseudo right there for anyone to find. When I think about it even now it makes me cry. WHY? Why would she do that to me? Why would anyone do that to anyone?

Why does she hate me so very much that she would allow this? It’s her blog, it’s her responsibility. Legally and morally.

What have I *ever* done except try to stand up for people like me, to point out the unfairness of the way marginalized people are treated? What have I ever done that would make this author think this is even remotely okay?

I mean, I know a lot of authors’ pseudonyms and real names, I worked in publishing for several years before going freelance. It would never, ever occur to me to out someone. It would never occur to me to allow a comment outing someone on my blog. I just don’t understand why this person is so awful. I don’t, I never have.

I don’t understand why they won’t suffer professional consequences either, but as I’ve learned, I will never understand allistic people.

During the time when I was getting *at least* a harassing email every week, (often I’d get three or more) I wondered who the person was who was being free with my legal name.  Or people, it’s possible other people have something like this out there. Obviously, someone was, because the harassing emails all had my legal information. Many had my partner’s, his place of work. One even had our phone number and license plate number in it.

Do you have any idea of how terrifying that is? I’m a trans, mixed-race female presenting person. A person very similar to me was attacked just last week in the states. I have a family with minor children in it to protect. These are the consequences that this person will probably never face because of what she’s done.

And this author carelessly, or perhaps maliciously, (I’ll never know because I won’t speak to her, in fact have had her blocked since the thread/subtweeting issue) left my name where anyone could find it.

That kind of thing, those unfounded accusations and my legal name being paired together with my pseudo could’ve cost me jobs if I’d gone to search for them. It could’ve really fucked up my immigration status.

How is any of that even remotely okay?

People aren’t, and have never been, shy about telling people like me, in detail, what kinds of horrible things they will do to us and our families to ‘pay us back’ for being queer, or outspoken, or *insert whatever reason for hatred people can come up with*.

They’re not shy about actually doing those things either.

At 4am this morning, I wrote to this author’s agent, begging her to make the author take the comment down. I didn’t know what else to do except publicly out and shame the author (which is a form of cyberbullying, so I didn’t want to do that). I guess the agent must have moved swiftly, because, despite my not receiving a response, the comment has been taken down. I’m certain the author claimed innocence. A lot of allistic people do when they get called on bad behavior. We’ve all seen that. But you know, also, I’ll point you to the fact it was there for almost 2 years. Every day it was there the believability factor of innocence fades. It just does, it’s only logical.

Despite the removal, I still feel so threatened by what that author did. And I’m questioning how many of my mutuals, even people I’m close to, knew it was there and didn’t tell me?

Not being able to trust easily is so hard.

I’m still afraid, I’m still wickedly upset and crying at the drop of a hat (and I really don’t cry easy, I’ve been through too much, too much trauma, but this has just shaken me so damned much.)

To leave that kind of thing up on her contact page for so long is utterly unconscionable. But she’ll get away with it. Just like she’s gotten away with subtweeting and harassing me. Of causing me so much pain in the past. Like she’s gotten away with attacking and dragging other neurodiverse people over and over again. I’ve seen her do that multiple times.

For someone who is a so-called professional in an industry like publishing, gods, especially of books for young adults! (I tell you, I have a young adult. I would not want my young adult reading a book by someone with morals like that. I just wouldn’t, I wouldn’t allow that book into the house. I wouldn’t.) To not only allow the doxxing of a fellow author on their blog but to also leave it where anyone could find it for such a very long time… it’s personally reprehensible to me. Especially when I’m a marginalized author, it’s so dangerous. I’m terrified, angry and sickened by this author’s actions.

Although the post has been removed, it doesn’t change the damage and pain she’s caused to me. The 8 months of harassment I received, me having to contact the police, the danger my family has been in. The danger *I’ve* been in. I had someone threaten to kill my cats!! Yeah. It doesn’t change it.

Because of people like that author, and others, the rumour mongers, I will always have the stink of false rumours and cruel innuendos clinging to me. That is so unfair, I don’t deserve that.

I had a wicked panic attack last night, then I got so, so angry. I still controlled myself. I didn’t publicly out who this author is. I can and will continue to tell people who ask me privately. That is not bullying, and since she had my legal name and pseudo on her blog for almost two years, two motherfucking years!, I have no problem at all telling people who it is if they ask me privately. Email me if you want to know, or if you’re one of the few who have access to my direct messages on social media, you can ask me that way. I won’t become the bully and say it in public, though. Not unless I have to out of self-defense. What you all do with that information is up to you. I don’t advocate for following/unfollowing or blocking this person. (Because that would be bullying.)

If *you* want to unfollow/block, do it, and I’ll support you.

If *you* don’t want to unfollow/block, do that, and I’ll support you.

I make it a policy to not attempt to influence peoples interpersonal connections, it’s far too close to abusive behavior (controlling who someone is friends with is a huge abusive red flag) and I’ve had that done to me by abusive boyfriends and family members. I’ll never knowingly do that to someone else. I may warn someone, I might open the door to say here is this information if you want it, but telling them who to be friends with/not be friends with is just not something I do.

But, I understand the need to protect yourself, and the need to know you aren’t friends/associates/following someone who is capable of doing such a horrific thing as this. So yes, I’ll absolutely privately tell anyone who wants to know. What you do with that info though, you get to decide. I can’t and won’t advise you on that.

My eating disorder reared up again last night, and I’ve been doing so well! I still haven’t eaten (I’m working on it, I really am, I’m working on it).

I had a horrible night of insomnia, and honestly, I doubt I’ll ever get an apology. She’s never apologized for anything she’s done to me before, she’s most likely is not going to suffer anything for what she’s done, professionally or personally, so why the hell would she apologize to someone she obviously doesn’t consider human?

I knew, from previous encounters with her, how horrible she could be, but I never in a million years expected her to stoop so low as to allow a doxxing of me on her blog. Never.

So that’s what’s been behind all the vague angst I’ve had for the past 18 hours. I’m going to go on full hiatus from Twitter for the weekend, maybe even a week. Maybe just stay off online for a bit. I’m removing the app from my phone and tablet for a while.

It’s got nothing to do with any of my followers, you all have been wonderful, but I just need a break. I need to lock the door to my house and keep the world out for a few days. To just be around my family, people I know would never hurt me, either by doing awful things or not telling me about someone doing awful things and thereby endangering me and my family. Enabling the level of harassment I was under.

Because some people I’m close to must have known that was there. It’s illogical that they didn’t with this person being a mutual, a friend even, with many of mine. Being close friends even, with many of you… we have many of the same business associates, this industry is tiny. We know many of the same people.

That fucks me up so badly.

That they didn’t bother to tell me. That’s… rather an ouchy thing to realize. That people I’m legitimately close to would allow all that harassment of me and my family to continue to take place. Knowing the likely source of where the harassers got my name.

Ouch. So I kinda have to cope with that too.

 

 

 

 

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Safe space in fiction

*Blows the dust off my blog*

It’s been a while, if you follow my Twitter you’ll know why, but if you don’t, basically life blew up and it’s taking me some time to find my bearings again.

But that’s not why I decided to blog today.

I probably should do some sort of wrap up for the past 6 months or so of hell, but that’s not this post (and I loathe *shoulds*).

No, this post is about safety in the material we read. It’s also about an author’s responsibility to their readers.

Keep in mind I’m both? A published author and a voracious, marginalized reader.

I usually read a lot of romance, because, for me, it’s safe. I know that unless it’s been mismarketed/labeled, a romance will have an HEA (Happily Ever After) at the end. No matter what hell the author puts their characters through, I’m guaranteed that at the end, the main characters will be happy enough that *I* can be happy finding another book to read.

For someone with as many mental health issues as I have, that’s bloody important.

Me and my list of mental health issues… (Gif description: Crowley from Supernatural unrolling a very long scroll/list on the beaten earth of a junkyard)

crowley-list-gif-8

 

But what about the other areas of safety that so many authors, even my favorites, fail to make sure of?

I just ran heart-first into a wicked fail by one of my favorite authors. And even over an hour later and much of that spent cuddling my beloved, I’m still nauseated and wishing like hell I’d never started the reread of a series that I used to like.

For reference: CW something that should NEVER be said about mentally ill people.

There’s a thread there to my reactions and thoughts, but it boils down to one of my favorite authors making me feel so very unsafe.

Unwelcome in her worlds.

Given that she’s one of a dwindling few authors who can still suck me into a story, (I’m always on the lookout for more!) one who I’ve religiously supported by buying her new books even during my political shitstorm motivated reading hiatus of the past couple of years… well, it bloody sucks is what it does.

It hurts to know that one of my fav (former fav?) authors holds enough hatred of someone like me that she’d call me and people like me ‘wrong for lack of a better word’.

I mean… the pub date on that particular book is 2015. Why are we STILL HAVING THIS CONVERSATION?

Seriously, WHY?

There is nothing wrong with being mentally ill. There is nothing wrong with being POC, or mixed race, or queer, or fat, or disabled, or (insert marginalization here).

But you’d really think there was reading some (most?) of the major sellers in any genre you can pick.

Fiction just isn’t safe for marginalized people. I thought maybe, because Ms. Singh is marginalized herself, that I could trust her.

But that trust was just horribly broken and I’m not sure I can get it back.

This is my second reread of the Psy Changeling series. I want to still love it, but all through the series there is a definite thread of ‘if you’re mentally ill, you’re wrong’. And the author went ahead and stated it in that bit of dialogue. The character who said it, by the way, is supposed to be an empath. A really sensitive to others and their problems kind of character. Way to go with the ableism empathic person. Sigh.

Mostly, in the series, it’s shit-talk about people with ASPD (Slur: Sociopath/Psychopath) and it’s hellaciously harmful towards that particular mental illness. (I’m no expert on that, but I know people with ASPD and I’ve read up on it for my characters and like… y’all, don’t ever read that series, it’ll rip you up, you deserve better.) The depictions of ASPD in the Psy Changeling series are narrow, stereotyped to the extreme and wickedly harmful.

The first time I read this series, a couple of years ago, and that book, in particular, I was in a much better place regarding my mental health. I’d just sent out a number of full requests on my first full-length novel I thought worthy of the name, Ilavani. I was seeing modest success on my self-published works, my family was stable and we were making some little bit of extra each month, we had a home and I had a garden. I had a dog.

All of that except my tiny, weird little human family is gone now, and I’ve had to give up on querying my books to agents because I absolutely can’t take it anymore. It, along with the other shit, broke my mental health. I got lucky on one of the last four queries I sent, so I have a great publisher, and as long as they want my work and treat me well, they can keep having my work.

My debut with a publisher is here, BTW, if you like queer fiction with GOOD mental health representation. It’s own voices, the rep is real because it’s how I experience mental illness.

So to say I’m a *bit* more sensitive now than a couple of years ago to the shit-talk about mental illness in the Psy Changeling series is a little bit of an understatement.

I remember crying in joy at reading the way one of the main characters in that book is described. Zaira is mixed-race and seeing the way that expresses in ME, ON THE PAGE IN A MAJOR PUBLICATION… it made me cry tears of joy. (Just goes to show how different time periods in a person’s life can affect their enjoyment of a work of literature.)

Maybe between my stability then, and the way Ms. Singh does so damned well with the mixed-race descriptions and feelings… maybe I missed how horrible she does with mental illness?

It’s possible, I’m only human, after all.

That’s book 14 in the series, by the way, I bought all of them when I discovered Ms. Singh’s work a few years ago, when I had more of a disposable income. I’ve even purchased a bunch I haven’t read yet, which is why I’m rereading the series so I can read the new ones.

And for the most part, I can choose to ignore the shit rep and the shit talk in this series. (I’ve been hurt so much in life that things that legitimately should probably bother me just… don’t. I’m working on this with my therapist.) The characters, worldbuilding, sexy times and ROMANCE makes up for it *for me*, or it did. I’m not sure I can go back after that line though. It HURT.

It stabbed me right in the heart and punched me in the gut.

I don’t know where I want this blog entry to go now. I want to point out so many examples of lack of safety for marginalized people in modern fiction. So, so, so many…

Even among my favorite authors.

But I think I’ll just stop and say DO. FUCKING. BETTER. AUTHORS!

The information is out there. There is someone blogging or tweeting or doing video about *anything* you want to know about.

So do fucking better. Do your damned research if you’re going to have mental illness in your books (and that means more than a freaking google search or wikipedia article, it means reading real life, lived experiences of the marginalization(s) in question).

Do your freaking research into the queer community and our different IDs if you’re going to have us in your books, (oh, and don’t fucking kill us off either) figure out how to write POC WELL if you’re going to include them. Disability? Please… I can’t remember ever reading a book that had good disability rep that was ALSO mainstream. (I guess we could point to Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient… but I don’t believe my autistic brain is a disability so that one is iffy for me. It’s a fantastic book BTW, if you haven’t read it DO and preorder the second one while you’re at it. It’s just as good if not better.)

I’ll end with this. Include us. But don’t USE us. Oh! And hire authenticity/sensitivity readers PLEASE. It’s kinda why we exist and do what we do… so shit like this DOESN’T harm an unsuspecting reader.

I feel horribly used right now. Emotionally beaten.

I’ll probably end up going back to the series because I’m hard up for things to read that suck me in, don’t make my editor brain scream and ALSO feature marginalized characters I can see myself in.

But the hurt will take a while to fade.

(And for what it’s worth, the PTSD rep is so authentic *to my experience of it* in Singh’s Guild Hunter series that it feels like a warm hug to me, so I have no issue with that series, I just reread it prior to Psy Changeling. It almost feels like sinking into a badly needed warm bath to see that and mixed-race rep done well in a majorly best selling series. I’ve heard bad things about the rep in the Rock Kiss series by the same author, so I haven’t and won’t read that one. It’s odd, how they’re all almost penned by different authors.)

Do better authors. So you don’t hurt your readers. Without readers? We authors wouldn’t be able to BE authors.

We’d be weirdos telling ourselves stories in the dark with coffee stained t-shirts and messy hair. Whoops… saw my reflection there, pardon my description, I’m sure it doesn’t resemble other authors AT ALL. (Go on laugh, I’m trying to be funny, damnit!)

The kindness of strangers

To most people, something like a laptop is a luxury. Most folks can get by using the library computer, their phone, or a desktop without much hassle or fuss.

It’s not the same for me. A laptop is truly an accessibility item for me. I have numerous chronic health conditions, two of which cause me massive, ongoing pain, so when my laptop started to die a while ago, it engendered such a wealth of panic in me that I can’t really find the words to express it.

My sleep and anxiety got worse and worse as my screen died by inches. I knew I absolutely couldn’t afford to replace my laptop on my own, and sending it in for repair would’ve made me lose a good eight weeks of working time, or more, IF I could even get the company to repair the damned thing.

I don’t tend to make a whole LOT of money, I freelance edit, do graphics design work and make a little bit on my writing, but we do depend on my income. Any luxury we have is either purchased with gift cards given to us by family or from my income, and some bills are all on my plate. All of my writing expenses are things I pay for myself, so it’s imperative that I have the ability to work in the only way I can.

Which meant I absolutely had to find a way to replace my laptop.

When I bought my laptop two years ago, I spent what I had to in order to get a computer that I could do all the work on that I needed to do. I had to get a gaming laptop so that it could handle the graphics design work I do.

I could write and surf on most laptops, but in order to do the 3D manipulation I do, which makes up a large portion of my income, I have to have a computer with muscles.

The ultra-expensive HP laptop I bought lasted 2 years, 1 month and 14 days before the screen did the ‘black screen of death’ thing to me.

I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude that, when, in desperation I opened a gofundme in order to replace my computer in time, donors (many of whom were either dear friends or complete strangers) raised enough money in 9 days to help me pick up a certified refurbished laptop on sale.

My faith in humanity wavers sometimes, but my goodness has it ever been restored. Thank you so so much for everyone who donated, retweeted, spread the word and asked for help for me. You have my undying gratitude.

Something as simple as a laptop is so needed for me to access things like work, the internet, netflix, games, so many things require a laptop for me… people I’ll likely never meet helped me in my hour of need and I’m so grateful.

Closing of Multifarious Press

I’ve been dreading both coming to this decision and telling people about it.

One of the hardest things for me to do is admit I’ve been a fool. But boy have I ever been a fool in thinking that *I* had it in me to run a press.

I don’t. I really don’t. If it were something as simple as doing the work of editing, making the covers, publishing the books, (which, I foolishly thought was the bulk of running a press) I could totally do all that. I HAVE done all that for my own books.

But it has honestly come down to people. Creatures I don’t understand in the slightest.

A little over a two years ago I saw so many diverse voices going unpublished because there is a lot of lip service going on about wanting diversity, but not a lot of actual books being put out for a lot of kinds of diversity.

Neuroatypicality for one. I have a lot of the skills necessary to get books out there, but what I don’t have is a thick hide. I’m broken, mentally ill, and the VAST amount of censure and harassment I (and my staff) have come under for DARING to want to help diverse voices find publication is just…

It’s a lot. It’s a large part of what caused me to run my head into a mental health crisis. Just wanting to help diverse voices find publication was definitely not enough. Having the skills wasn’t enough.

I’ve spoken about this before, but other peoples’ expectations of who and what I am shouldn’t have changed the moment I opened a press. Their opinions of my staff shouldn’t have changed either, but there isn’t a single person on my staff except perhaps my website designer who hasn’t gotten hassled for being a *publishing professional* because they’re affiliated with my tiny little shoestring press. I’m appalled that it did? How can people be so… short sighted and cruel? But they were. They REALLY were. People will be people and I’ll continually not understand them.

I thought, maybe if I waited long enough on my mental health hiatus that I’d be able to come back to it and finally publish these beautiful stories. I have some that I wanted to publish so badly that are so damned beautiful, and they DESERVE publication. But I just can’t do it. I don’t think, and neither does my therapist, that me being healthy enough to work at the press is likely to happen any time soon, and I can’t in good conscious keep holding up these brilliant authors from looking elsewhere.

When I opened this tiny little boutique press, I had a bit more faith in humanity. Faith in humanity has always been a failing of mine. I’m an optimist, really, though with all I’ve lived through I really shouldn’t be. I thought that people would, well, help a bit more than they ended up doing. I thought maybe we’d get editors who wanted to pen their own lines of diverse titles, I thought we’d get people interested in helping with contracts and legal paperwork. I definitely thought we’d get more than one patron. There is SO MUCH lip service being put to getting diverse voices out there. There isn’t a lot of follow through from people in publishing on it. Sadly. I foolishly thought there would be.

My staff and I were almost immediately swamped with queries. Which was wonderful, but none of us were being paid for reading them and we have to eat, which means that our paid work and our own writing always had to come first. Our patreon for the press remained for the entire time it was open with ONE person as a patreon. (I’ll be returning that extremely generous patron’s funds.)

I’ve considered keeping the press/website open for as long as I have the business license (another year and a half) but it’s cruel to keep holding the hope that I’ll be well enough to work on these stories over the author heads.

I can’t do that and I won’t.

I’m sorry for not being strong enough to do what I said I wanted to do. I’m sorry I had enough faith in humanity that they’d actually do what they said they wanted to do. But maybe people aren’t yet ready for the diverse stories and voices that are crying out to be seen.

I’ve had many people tell me they’re happy to wait for me to be well enough to work at the press again because they believe in the ideal of the press.

I really and truly wish I could say the same. I believe, deeply, that we need diverse stories. I desperately need more diverse stories to read, but when it came down to it? It was me and my staff working hard at a pipe dream.

I believe I’ve contacted all of my authors personally, if I have missed you, I sincerely apologize. My health has not been good for months, and I can only admit the truth of how badly that affects me, it could easily have made me miss someone.

 

 

 

Authorial Envy, Friendships and how to deal.

It’s a fact of life I think that anyone with a book out is going to (whether we want to or not) compare our books with the ones that big 5 publishing gives the marketing push to.

I sure do. It stinks. I hate it that I compare my books with the ones that have so much monetary backing behind the marketing that it’s so far out of my book’s league.

But how can I *not* feel envy during awards season?

Am I thrilled to see this year’s Hugo Awards going to the extremely deserving diverse authors that they went to? Absolutely! I read and loved (and voted for) a lot of those books.

But my books aren’t ever likely going to be there because people don’t even know who I am. Ninestar press, the house I’m with provides stories that are so well edited, with stunning cover art and wonderful, amazing stories that I need to read. Queer stories. But they’re a small press, and they just can’t compete financially with the corporate monsters that are Big 5 Publishing.

Even two similar authors within Big 5 publishing may have completely different experiences and suffer related issues with regards to feelings. A mid-list debut vs. a star debut for instance.

That’s bound to make any author experience envy, maybe bitterness or anger. So how do we deal with those kinds of emotions? How do we maintain friendships with authors who we’ve often known for years who may have gotten the marketing push?

1) We acknowledge them. Our feelings are valid. It does suck to know your book can’t compete. My name isn’t a household name, but other debut authors who’ve written books almost exactly the same as mine are. I’ve even worked on some of their books with them in the early stages before they got their contracts. My book isn’t well known and theirs is. Why? Their books got chosen to get the marketing push. It’s not even about quality. Corporate publishing is precisely that. Corporate I’ve read insider accounts of how books are selected for that marketing push, and it has nothing to do with quality, story, editing or anything that we reader/writer type peeps think matters in a story. I’ve worked enough in corporate to believe it too. So we need to take our pride out of the equation. It’s nothing that we did wrong, and they did right. It’s just the luck of the draw. Corporate, for whatever reason corporate had for that season, chose THAT book to push into the minds and awareness of readers through the holy power of the dollar. Both books are still good. Both authors are still (likely) great people who have worked damned hard at their craft.

2) We Accept our feelings. I’ve been in therapy off and on most of my life, and one thing my therapists have always told me to do is to accept that my feelings are real and that they’re valid. They may be yucky, messy, and uncontrollable, but they are our feelings, and the first step to dealing with these often unpleasant emotions in this business is to accept that they exist and are valid.

3) This part is important! We Do Not Act On Our Feelings! Publishing is small peeps. Lashing out at people who got the marketing push when you didn’t is shitty behavior. Don’t do it. It’s not the author’s fault their book got chosen any more than it’s your fault that yours didn’t. I’m friends with several debut authors whose books were chosen for the push. Think about what I might have done to my friends if I had lashed out about how much it hurts that my book has 17 reviews when theirs have 500 or more? It’s not their fault any more than it’s mine. It would’ve ruined the friendship, that’s for damned certain. The reason, again, that their books got that many reviews so quickly is because reviewers often get free print books from Big 5 publishers. Some reviewers REQUIRE print books before they’ll review, (which speaks to a bit of bias I’ll try to address in a future post) meaning that small press, again, can’t compete because it costs money to print the books to send to the reviewers. Big 5 presses have their own printers and storage places, most small press and self-pub use POD (print on demand). Mid-list authors with big 5 press might have a smaller allotment of ARCs that will be sent out to reviewers than are allotted to the star debut, again, it’s not the mid-listers fault any more than it’s the star debut author’s fault.

4) So. How do we maintain authorial relationships with these mixed and divided feelings? A couple of things that have worked for me that may work for you.

a. Remember that your friend might be overwhelmed at all the attention, they’re still your friend. Check up on them! Ask them if they’re okay and if they need anything!

b. If you have other friends who are in the same boat as you are, you can talk to them and share your feelings. It’s healthy to find out that many of us feel the same way, and often times, sharing the way we feel can help us not take it so hard.

c. Do NOT take your yucky emotions out on your friend. Try instead to be happy for their success. They did the same thing you did, you both wrote a book and managed to swim through the creative waters to the point of this: YOU BOTH PUBLISHED A BOOK!! Do you have any idea how many people say they want to write a book, but don’t? Who start but never finish? Try to separate the yucky emotions from the honest happiness that you DO feel for your friend. (It’s there. You might have to do some personal work to find it, but it IS there.) I know I’m utterly ecstatic for my writer friends and acquaintances when something goes right for them. My soul feels giddy for them.

d. Success in publishing can be a bright light that goes out very quickly. Sometimes a debut title that makes a big splash can be hard to live up to with the dreaded book two. Your friend might be worried about that so they might need you to be a good friend and not a jealous hell-beast from the bog of stench-envy. I have friendships with some big-name authors at this point, and every single one of them worries that their next book won’t be as well received as the last. That the previous book was their big bright splash on the map of publishing and nothing else will ever be as good. Trust me, they feel it. ALL of us feel it, no matter where in our journey and how successful or not we are. You might too if you ever get to that point. I am damned sure I’ll want my friends if I ever do get to a very high point in my career as an author.

e. I try to put myself in their shoes at every step on the road. What is my friend feeling? What would I be feeling in their place? How would I be dealing with X? What would I want from my friends if our places were reversed?

Empathy. In short. It’s about having empathy for yourself and for your friend.
Now go write your next book (and I’m going to follow my own advice and finish the sequel to my debut, Blood-Bound).


Kaelan is a non-binary author of mixed race from Upstate NY in the United States who currently lives with xyr partner of 20 years and their children in Southern Ontario, Canada. Xie is not represented by an agent.

Xyr family has three cats, a grumpy rescue chinchilla, and a betta fish. Other than writing, Xie freelances as an editor, makes jewelry and spins with a spinning wheel when xie isn’t writing or spending too much time on Twitter.

Xie is non-binary, autistic, mentally ill, and physically disabled. You can connect with Kae on the following social media platforms.

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Email Kae at Kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

Not A Romance

Anyone in romancelandia knows that RWA has a stinky track record when it comes to diverse romance of many different varieties. (Or if you don’t, you probably could do some reading to get yourself up to date.)

Racism, homosexual hate, bisexual hate, and so many other forms of dislike and hatred that it’s exhausting to think about much less try to list them all.

I almost canceled my RWA membership this year after hearing how some of my marginalized author siblings were treated last year at the conference.

I ended up renewing it after reading a release they made about a commitment to fixing the problems. I did it because I want to be able to enter my Bloodbound (my most recent release, also polyamorous, also with autistic leads, also kinky) in the RITA next year. I don’t expect to win that either, it’s for the experience. It might final, that one is excellent enough that The Ripped Bodice chose it for display, and it’s more mainstream.

I had entered my Hugo Nominated Ilavani in the RITA awards contest for 2017. I never expected to final, that’s not why I entered.

I entered my story because I believe in it, and I have a bit of a hesitancy about putting myself and my work forward. Entering my book in a blind-judge contest was a good test of that for me.

It actually surprised me that it got some high scores, it got more high than low (lowest and highest scores are thrown out). I’ll be the first to admit that the science-fantasy aspect of Ilavani is not going to be close to everyone’s taste, nor will be the kink or the genetic engineering, or the queer content.

Going forward there are spoilers for Ilavani.

It did absolutely surprise me that one of the judges marked it very low and said it wasn’t a romance.

Whut??

Everyone who enters the RITA has to judge the first round of books. (That was another reason I entered, for the experience of it.)

We have to answer these three questions and give a numerical score of something like 9.6 or 2.7.

Is the love story the main focus of the book?

Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

Does the entry fall within the category description?

Now for the spoilers.

Is the love story the main focus of the book?

Ilavani is a polyamorous romance with queer, mixed-race, autistic leads. Here’s the blurb (and the links to places you can learn more about it if you’re interested).

The first installment in a long-running, science fantasy series based in a queer, pagan, polyamorous, universe.

3800 years in the future.

Maëlcolm is a skilled BDSM trainer, a spy, and unfortunately, a prince.

Cameron is Maël’s older brother, titular heir to their father’s kingdom and in love with his enby bodyguard, Li.

Kat is a slave. A genetically modified being created for one purpose, and one alone. To please her masters in bed.

Los is a gifted Companion, the only thing that makes him happier than practicing his calling is loving Maël, the one man Los can’t have an official relationship with.

If Maël doesn’t give up his calling and do as the Ard Righ demands, his family loses everything.

If Cam doesn’t do what he needs to do to become worthy of the throne by the Ard Righ’s stringent standards, their family may be executed.

If Kat, autistic, touch-averse, and afraid, chooses to fight her fate, she’ll die.

When an artificial intelligence named ‘the high king’ is at the helm, the cost to human hearts may be impossible to bear.

You can buy it here, it’s serialized due to length, there are five volumes in all.

You can read the first chapter here if you’re so inclined.

Back to my point.

The two princes must save their father’s kingdom, that’s the underpinning plot of the book, which every book needs, something to drive the characters. The focus (what the story is really about) is the two polyamorous romances going on in the book, and more specifically, the formation of the younger brother’s polyamorous relationship.

Cam, the elder brother, is in love with his enby bodyguard Li. Xie can’t give him the only thing he needs, an heir. This is the tension between them, their thing to overcome. Cam falls in love with one of his breeding partners, this is another part of their journey, and a rather romantic one. I show some of the problems polyamorous relationships can have in their story.

The main character is obvious to whoever reads it. Mael is the younger brother, the one who was always indulged because he was the lucky number 13. In Ilavani he has to face the fact that due to political assassination, he’s now in direct line for the throne and it’s a race with his beloved brother Cam to see who can reproduce first. Whoever does, wears the crown, and Mael doesn’t want the crown. He’s autistic and fears he wouldn’t do well with it.

It’s a HORRIBLE time for the gray-aromantic Mael to fall in love. But that’s exactly what he does.

He falls in love with his last BDSM student, Kat, an indentured servant and a recent import to their planet. Falling in love with her makes Mael realize that he’s BEEN in love with his first student and lover Los for decades. (These peeps are pretty long-lived, they’re basically genetically created elves.)

The *entire* character journey for Mael, Kat and Los is about love. It’s about working through the problems and choices they’re confronted with by each of them being in love with the other. So please, someone explain to me exactly how this polyamorous M/M/F relationship isn’t the main focus of the book?

Did the judge even read it? My guess is that they didn’t, or they let a personal prejudice against polyamorous relationships or queer relationships get in the way of a fair score. If that’s the case then RWA *really* needs to investigate that judge and ask for explanations, which is part of the agreement we all signed when we entered our books.

I have massive issues with Christianity, and fade-to-black romances bore me to tears, (I got more than my share of both of those for my judging packet) but I still rated all the books I was sent fairly based on the laid out rules of the contest.

Given that I am not the only person whose book with a marginalized aspect or relationship structure scored low and got a *not a romance* tag, (see here, and here) I think RWA needs to take a close look.

Polyamory is the open, honest ability to love more than one person. This is my *life*. I *live* polyamory.

It’s something a lot of people live, it’s something we’re crying out for representation in our favorite genres of romance and erotic romance.

Someone who can’t accept that, who would call anything BUT a heteronormative, monogamous white man with white woman book NOT A ROMANCE… well, maybe they shouldn’t be judging a contest like the RITA?

If more than one of the five judges had said ‘not a romance’ maybe I’d question as to whether I did my job as an author well enough with that book. But the other four judges ranked it middle of the road or very high and all of them said yes to the questions.

Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

Ilavani is the first book of a trilogy. It’s still a romance. Each installment is going to (and in the case of Ilavani does) have an HEA (happily ever after) or an HEFN (happily enough for now). Those are the requirements of the genre. A book cannot be billed as a romance without having that. It’d be something like romantic suspense or fantasy with a strong romantic subplot, but it wouldn’t be a romance.

Romance *has* to have that HEA or HEFN. Ilavani does. At the end of Ilavani Mael begs Kat to accept him as he is, a prince, with this horrible burden he has around his neck (spoiler). He asks her to spend her life with him, he frees her. How is that *not* emotionally satisfying? How is it *not* optimistic? Kat is even plotting how to make sure the guys’ relationship stays strong. So it’s not even because the polyamorous aspect isn’t complete. It’s complete enough *for now*.

Does the entry fall within the category description?

The category class I entered for Ilavani was erotic romance. Ilavani is *the* most erotic piece I’ve ever written. It has so much character driven sex in it people have written to me to tell me it’s their favorite bedroom aide d’amour and it’s saved two marriages (that I know of).

Erotic. Check!

Romance… it’s all about the characters, Mael, Kat, Los, Cam, Li, and Mai. These are the two intertwined polyamorous relationships. This is a family of choice. This isn’t erotica (I have no problem with erotica, erotica is awesome, but it’s defined as *the sexual journey of the characters* NOT the *emotional journey of the characters*. Erotic romance is the latter. My book is about the emotional journey, of people falling in love when they shouldn’t while they are trying to save their kingdom as they know it. (While graphically boinking one another’s brains out in various kinky fashions.)

My book is definitely erotic romance.

I question the veracity of this judge’s answers. If it were just me, I wouldn’t make a stink, but with several other authors that I know of getting poor scores and/or the ‘not a romance’ tag for race or for polyamory, or for bisexuality… well. I think we can see the actual problem isn’t that our stories aren’t romances.

The actual problem is something far darker and much more disgusting.

It’s bigotry.

 

 

Bloodbound’s release is an emotional one for me.

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I have so many mixed emotions about my Debut release from a publisher.

I have books out, ones I’ve released myself. I know how to do it, but the experience of being traditionally published is so completely different from self-pubbing that I feel justified in calling BLOODBOUND my debut.

I’ve gone from frustration, to joy, to fear, to tears of joy, to terror at what people will say and think of me after reading my book to knee bending gratitude that my publisher and editor gave me the chance to get my story out there and so many other emotions that I can’t even put a name to them all.

It’s such a maelstrom of feelings.

There’s also this odd… grief… almost. With my other titles, I always have the option, if I need/want to pull them from the market or make a change if someone points out a typo or what have you. I can do that. With BLOODBOUND, I don’t have that. So it’s a lot like saying goodbye to a child I’ve birthed, grown, nurtured, disciplined and made ready for the world to see.

It’s out there now. I can’t protect it anymore, I can’t make changes to it, and I certainly can’t pull it (not that I really WANT to, that would negate the point of publishing it after all).

But there’s this odd melancholy haunting me today. It’s done. It’s finished. It is a thing complete and now I need to move on to new projects. After having BLOODBOUND front and center in my mind, off and on, since November 2016 when I started writing it. It’s an adjustment, for certain.

Moving on, in the factual sense is easy enough, I have BLOODBOUND’s sequel SOULBOUND 95% done and almost ready to send to my Critique Partners. So concentrating on that will be a good thing. It’s already past my self-imposed due date of the end of March in any case.

Emotionally though? I think it’ll take time to sink in, that my brain baby is out in the world now. That I have to say goodbye in a very real sense to that book.

There’s also a sense of hope. That BLOODBOUND will reach the readers it was written for, and maybe provide a window into what life as someone like me is like for those who don’t need it as badly.

And that’s where my ask comes in.

BLOODBOUND is traditionally published through a small press. A larger, reputable one for certain, but it doesn’t have the kind of backing a big-5 publisher can give a book if they choose to. In publishing, so much about success is predicated by marketing dollars and getting the book into the public eye. There are readers out there who will LOVE my book, who need it to see themselves on the page, but if they don’t know it exists, they can’t enjoy it.

I’d like to ask anyone who reads this, if you’ve ever learned anything from me. If you support queer people. Autistic people. Mixed-race people. Polyamorous people. Pagan people… tell people about the book. Retweet things on it, reshare on all the social media networks you’re a part of. Share its name in the fan-groups you’re part of. The book is kinky, erotic, and paranormal with vampires and shapechangers, so it’d fit in any of those groups.

If you can, please buy a copy of the book. If it’s not your kind of book, buy a copy and donate it or gift it to someone who DOES love paranormal romance. Maybe run a giveaway of the book.

If you can’t afford it, and it’s a possibility for you (or even if you can afford it, and want to go the extra step) go to your local library and ask them to order a copy of the book. That helps so much, it’ll take probably five minutes of your time to fill out the form, (and many of them are online now) but it can mean so much success for me, and it’ll help people who need that book to find it.

If you read it, please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and noble and Indigo. It’s really as simple as cut and pasting your review from one place to the next, I do this all the time and it takes me less than five minutes.

Please understand a review does NOT have to be a magnum opus, it can be as simple as “I loved this book because reason.” that’s it. It helps authors so, so, soooo much.

I’m not joking when I say that reviews sell books. Aside from people reading the reviews, the number of reviews on places like Amazon decide which books get featured in their newsletter and which ones get shown to buyers browsing for books like that. Even if you didn’t like the book, or my voice wasn’t for you… please just review it. Even if you hated it, you can review it because it’ll make sure that other people aren’t getting into something they don’t want to read.

Reviewing is IMPORTANT. I can’t emphasize that enough. I really can’t.

Here’s the info for doing any and all of the above, and you have my sincerest gratitude. Now, on to SOULBOUND! (I might have to shed a few tears of goodbye for BLOODBOUND though, it’s been my companion for close to two years, saying goodbye is hard to do!)

Blood-Bound-f500 (1)

To buy:

I earn the most money on digital copies from the publisher, but I get the most exposure from either print or digital from Amazon, so really, purchase wherever you usually do business. There isn’t a better or worse way *for me* to have you buy my book.

If you’re thinking of getting a print copy, asking your local bookstore to order it can help a lot because oftentimes, they’ll order a second copy for shelf-stock, ensuring me two sales vs one.

Digital from the publisher

Print from Amazon

Digital from Amazon

Indigo for KOBO (digital, you’ll have to go in with the ISBN to get the store to order it, they can. If they give you a hassle, tell them it’s distributed through Ingram.)

Digital for B&N for NOOK

Print for B&N

Webbutton long Ripped Bodice

Print ISBN: 978-1-948608-91-6

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-948608-80-0

And if you want a signed copy direct from me with the swag pack (until I run out of them!) You can send me $15.99 in US funds plus exact shipping from Canadian postal code N6J 3R5 to your location, to my paypal address and I’ll send it off to you within the next couple of weeks. (As soon as I get my box of books!) Just do me a favor and send me an email telling me you’ve paid for a copy please so I can keep track? (kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com)

If you purchased it elsewhere and want a free swag-pack, *until I run out!*

All you need to do is send me a purchase receipt from the publisher for digital or anywhere for print to the above email address (Amazon et alli have unfavorable to the author return policies on digital books, so, unfortunately, the digital purchases aren’t eligible from anywhere but the publisher, I’m sorry.) Include your address and I’ll get it out as soon as possible! If you’re worried about how to get the book from the publisher onto your Kindle, Nook or Kobo, you should be able to email them to kindle/upload them to kindle or upload them to Nook and Kobo (I don’t use those two, so don’t know if you can email them or not.)

Thank you so much for everything you do for me and people like me. It really means the world to know that people like me have a place in publishing and in your lives.

 

 

 

Marvel Studios Fvcked up with Infinity War… and here’s why.

THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR IN THIS REVIEW.

Content Warning Foul Language.

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Last chance… SPOILERS AHEAD. Some for Age of Ultron and other Marvel titles as well.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t follow the comics. I haven’t since uni for a couple of reasons. So I’m approaching this review and my reactions to Infinity War from a MOVIE watcher’s perspective.

Superhero movies are my brain candy. They are one of the few types of movies I make sure my disabled, broke as fuck ass gets out to see in theatre. I save up for these things. It costs me a lot in time, energy, health resources, and money that I really don’t have a lot of to go see these.

I have expectations for them (and yes, I let far too much slide with regards to these movies).

I hurt like a son of a bitch yesterday, and I STILL went to see the movie. Because I really wanted to have the Marvel Movie Experience.

Boy did I not get it.

Backing up a little, I’m not much of a traditionalist for 99.9% of things in life. My husband and I never did a wedding, we don’t have a ‘song’, we’re lackadaisical about couples holidays… and still been happily married for 20+ years. To kinda give you a bit of a handle on my me. I like bending genres, reading/writing genre-busting books…

But one of the very few things I will go to the mat for are story-telling tropes and formulas.

I ripped the hell out of Rogue One because it fucked up the formula.

And that’s one of the ways Marvel Studios fucked up with Infinity War.

See, in the comics universes, there are two main leaders that most people know. DC and Marvel.

Some people like one and dislike the other, some people like both for different reasons.

I love both, for a variety of reasons.

If I want dark and gritty entertainment, with a grimdark sense of reality, I will turn to DC, because historically they have given that to me. I can COUNT on them to give that to me.

Walking into a DC movie, I know that it’s very likely a character that I like might die, it might even be the main character, or the love interest, and because I’m going into it knowing that, I’m good with it.

Walking into a Marvel movie, I know I’m going to be left on a high-point, one illustrating hope and helping me believe for a single moment in time that humanity is worth saving and that hope actually matters.

They didn’t end Infinity War on a high point. They left me no hope, which means I have NO EXCITEMENT FOR THE NEXT FILM. None.

I really don’t give a fuck about anything to do with Marvel now. (Except Deadpool 2 and if that sucks it’ll be the final nail in the coffin of my love for Marvel. Actually, if Loki ends up dead for good, with as much as Tom loves that role? That’d kill it off quicker than fire on a seedling for me too.)

Lolz, people will think I’m being dramatic. While I own the fact that I CAN be dramatic, I stopped watching Walking Dead after they killed off ONE (not both) of my favorite characters. Haven’t caught an episode since and I stuck with that show for YEARS of bad writing. I’d been a fan from first season.

When I’m done, that’s it. I’m done.

And frankly, I have no reason to go watch any other Marvel film having to do with the Avengers or any of them until and unless they fix what they fucked up. So sad for Captain Marvel… even if it’s a prequel, I’m not laying down money to see it. Not after Infinity War.

Marvel Studios has done an amazing job in the past ten years investing me in the characters they mostly freaking killed off in Infinity War.

Leaving me soured at the end of that film was a bad business decision on their part.

You can argue (and it’s been argued with me) that because they made me FEEL SOMETHING (in this case anger, irritation, annoyance, and WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK Marvel?) then the storytelling achieved its goal.

I disagree.

Storytelling isn’t JUST about making people feel something. That’s part of it sure.

It’s not even close to all of it though.

Part of successful storytelling for series and franchise titles like the Marvel movies is MAKING THE VIEWER OR READER WANT TO COME BACK FOR MORE.

Not turning them off from ever wanting to watch anything they made again.

And that’s exactly what Infinity War did to me and many people like me.

I came home after watching IW and tried to watch one of my favorites in the Marvel universe. A comfort watch, so to speak. One I can watch over and over again, regardless. I couldn’t get through it. IW killed Marvel for me.

Because they fucked with the formula.

I knew, going into it, to expect *very bad things* from early reactions of my friends and general chatter about the movie and crowds reactions.

I didn’t expect it to make me hate Marvel Studios. That was a bit of a shock. I didn’t expect it to remove all enjoyment I have in previous titles.

Because they didn’t give me any hope at the end of IW. The bad guy got the happy ending. That’s it. I count on Marvel for hope, and they didn’t deliver.

A single flash onto how the heroes are going to fix this cock-up just before end credits could’ve saved that movie. Because it did have most of what Marvel does so well.

They didn’t do that though. They left me, (and the entire theatre I sat in) cold, dead, and mourning our favorites.

Knowing that, because there are already sequels to other Marvel franchise movies signed and filming, that something would fix it (or that all the other ones will be predated to IW), but no real knowledge ON FILM for us to cling to? No hope?

Not a good move, Marvel. Not a good move at all.

Oh and guess what, other than Deadpool 2, I’m not laying down money on ANYTHING Marvel puts out until and unless they fix the cock-up they made with IW in a way that my heart can take.

They broke my trust. They broke my heart, and those things can’t be fixed easily.

Which is WHY we pay attention to things like tropes and story-telling genres and models of entertainment.

People trust us (I’m as much of an entertainer as anyone, given that I’m making my money from writing and editing) so I KNOW how this is supposed to work.

It’s a shame Marvel didn’t. Or that they thought they were too big to fail (and hell, maybe they are). I only know that *I* a die-hard Marvel fan, am not spending more money on Marvel films barring Deadpool 2 going forward. Not unless they fix what they fucked up.

When I want a hopeful ending to a story, I’ll pick up a romance, because I’m guaranteed an HEA (Happily Ever After) because it’s a ROMANCE. (They aren’t marketed as romances unless they have an HEA.)

When I want my guts ripped out and anxiety about my characters, I’ll pick up a sci-fi or a fantasy by a favorite author.

When I want to wonder who-done-it with no way of knowing if it’ll be happily resolved, I’ll pick up a crime thriller.

When I want a who-done-it with a guaranteed HEA? I’ll pick up a paranormal romance.

In entertainment, consumers expectations HAVE to be taken into account when you’re doing anything with regards to, you know, entertainment.

If you aren’t thinking about that while you’re crafting what you hope will entertain, then you’re going about it the wrong way.

I still don’t know what the actual fuck Marvel Studios and the Russo Bros were thinking by doing that with IW.

I trusted Marvel to give me what they always have, hope. (I mean, I’m still hoping for the fast-twin character to come back from Age of Ultron, because NO ONE DIES AND STAYS DEAD IN MARVEL! That’s one of the things I love about it!)

They left that story open ENOUGH (fast healing, fast-paced scene and we didn’t actually see him dead/stay dead) that it’d be believable within the Marvel universe if he reappeared.

So there was *some* hope for that character.

In IW… they left us with NO hope. None. Except the vague knowledge that they have to fix it somehow, or all other upcoming titles will be predated to IW, which… would be extremely odd and ill thought out.

But given how badly they fucked up with IW I wouldn’t put it past them.

I trusted Marvel to give me what they always have, what I *need* from Marvel.

They failed in that trust.

Within the first five minutes, they killed off my favorite character, Loki. I knew that one was coming because I specifically asked a friend if he died (I needed to be prepared for that one).

So, I’m sitting there watching the movie, and it’s entertaining enough in the way Marvel films usually are for me. Lots of action, pretty people doing unbelievable to the laws of physics things on screen… (I’m a scientist, by all rights I should hate superhero movies JUST for the OMFG whut aspect on the physics… like I said, I give them far too much leeway.) some emotional oomph, lots of CGI, reasonably decent writing.

Writing wise, they tried to cram far too many disparate plots into one 2ish hour movie. They had too many character arcs competing for attention so NONE of the character arcs had the emotional oomph they needed.

If they wanted to do that, from a writing standpoint, and make me feel it, they needed to slow things down a bit and make the movie longer. I have no problem with long movies that have an intermission. Hell, I went to Trilogy Tuesday for LoTR (19+ hours in a movie theatre).

It could have been done, and honestly, should’ve been done.

They did a good job almost making me empathize with the megalomaniacal genocide preaching villain (which, honestly, that was VERY well done because I’m very much not for killing trillions of sentient beings with the snap of a finger).

But Thanos was the only one who got a happy ending in that film.

ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE I CARED ABOUT DIED.

Then roll credits.

That… that is not the hopeful ending I need from Marvel Movies.

Now. Yes. I know that they are likely going to fix it in the sequel, which was originally titled Infinity War 2.

And it IS Marvel. People don’t stay dead in Marvel.

Which is one of the charms Marvel has for me. If I wanted a fucking DC movie, I’d’ve GONE to a DC movie.

There are a number of ways they can fix it (and I swear to gods if they don’t Marvel will be dead to me, don’t piss off your fan base peeps, it’s bad business). I’ve discussed this with friends who read the comics, and I know which one is most likely.

That friend is warning me that there will likely be a sacrifice needed for the ‘fix’. And if it is? (You’ll note, those of you who’ve seen it, that ONLY the original Avengers survived?) It’ll be one or all of the originals who has to die to replace the new ones. They’ll have to sacrifice their lives to pass on the torch to the new Avengers, and that’s how it will be.

Which will also ruin Marvel for me.

See, Marvel is not DC. Marvel heroes can retire, they can fade away, they can be referred to as ‘they had to leave for the good of their families’.

They can’t die, not and stay dead. Not if it’s gonna be Marvel, and not if it’s gonna leave viewers hopeful and wanting to come back for more.

In order to make Infinity War a good movie, other than the basic storytelling issues it had, it needed to have a flash of a way for the heroes to fix it before the end credits.

Something to leave the viewer with the hope that, ‘oh, holy shit the world is fucked but we KNOW our heroes can fix it!’

That’s what brings us back to watch the next Marvel film, and the next, and the next.

Not a sense of poignant gloom and doom and ‘wait, that’s IT? THAT’S WHERE THEY ARE LEAVING US? FOR THE YEAR OR MORE IT’S GONNA TAKE TO PUT OUT THE SEQUEL?’

So… as far as Infinity War goes? I really wish I’d skipped it.

It wasn’t worth my money, it wasn’t worth my angst, and it almost isn’t worth me writing this review.

Maybe if they’d released BOTH IW 1 and IW 2 at the same time, or within weeks of each other, they could’ve gotten away with that shite.

As it stands?

Nope.

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Final Fantasy 14 Geek-out

I’ve been a gamer since I was tiny.

Ever since pong.

I think I was six the first time I played a computer game of some sort. On an Atari. Yes. I’m THAT old. Shhhh. First actual computer was a Commodore 64.

So that means I’ve been gaming with some regularity for probably 35 years? I took a bit of a break from it, only playing games I could easily step away from while the kids were tiny, but in December a lovely person sent me credit to a couple of online gaming sites.

Blizzard, Steam etc. So a friend of mine suggested I try the ‘new’ (lolz, I was behind, okay? It wasn’t that new) Starcraft II. (I REALLY HOPE THEY MAKE A STARCRAFT THREE!!!)

It hooked me back into gaming so hard and fast and I played it through three times on different difficulty levels before starting to look for something else.

Now… you have to think about something. I played MMOs back in University, some 20 years ago, when there was NO VISUAL COMPONENT.

Back then, they were sort of like glorified chat rooms.

So when another friend suggested I try WoW I did the free trial, and yeah. Hooked.

I ran through my trial and never subscribed because there were a few things I REALLY didn’t like about WoW. Just starting out with MMOs, I was not interested in grinding through 100 levels just to get to the good stuff (new content). Then when the game developers made it so damned hard to PLAY as a newbie that I legit couldn’t play without my partner in crime. (hubs) it lost its magic for me. There are some things I miss about WoW, and I may take a break from FFXIV to go back to my Feral at some point, cause I really did love playing it, but… I dunno. Draenor drained me.

A couple of my other friends played other MMOs so they suggested Final Fantasy 14 next.

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Lolz, I think the last final fantasy I played was like 4? or 7 maybe? It had been a long damned time anyway.

I did the trial of FFXIV and I am soooooo addicted. I’m so very grateful people are sending me gift cards and crysta so I can KEEP feeding this addiction of mine.

Why do I love it so, though? What does it do for me?

Well, one, it’s just so flipping pretty. The artwork alone makes me happy when I’m playing the game.

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Two… it gives me the illusion of traveling. I hate to admit it, but between being disabled, poor as ever living fuck (I mean, our family looks UP to the poverty line and waves fondly at it.) I can’t travel.

I’d love to go to the Carribean, or visit mountains, or see distant lands but as it stands? I can’t. And unless I start selling a metric ton of books, I won’t ever be able to, so the game gives me that. The backgrounds are so gorgeous and realistic, the sound effects so lovely that it *almost* feels real. It gives me a sense of what it MIGHT be like if I COULD travel.

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The fantasy storyline is fun. If you come at me with the idea that poor people shouldn’t have fun, then I’ll come back at you with mental health statistics on why poor people, even more than wealthy ones, need some form of pleasure in their lives.

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Lolz, I’ve totally already figured out the storyline, I think I had by maybe 1/4 the way through the Main Story Quest line, but that’s irrelevant to me. I can still enjoy it.

I saw the twist around level 48 coming too. But I don’t care. I don’t need fantasy to always be unpredictable. This one being predictable (to me, I AM a writer after all, this is my stock in trade) is a comfort to me.

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There aren’t many surprises.

The artwork style for the combat and the drawing style of the animations is a particular style of anime type of illustration that I’ve loved since I was tiny. It’s so gorgeous! It’s flashy and fun and it lets me escape my not so great life when I need it most.

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It lets me pretend to have the body that I would have if I had a magic wand. (I play a gender bender, and he’s healthy and able to do things I haven’t been able to do in 20 years, like run, and climb and… yeah.)

When I get bored of fighting, I can go do a crafting mission, when I get bored of crafting, I can do a beast tribe quest (repetitive, but they give me stuff I need). I can eventually buy a house, (which I will likely never be able to do in real life) and I can hang out with other people who like to play it too.

I’m a solitary player for most of these games, but the chat function while playing is actually growing on me.

Lolz, I was joking with a friend of mine (one of the ones who got me into it) about that, because I was SUPER reluctant to try learning to talk to people on games, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to miss it when I *don’t* have someone to talk to when I’m playing.

I’m sure after I finish writing this that I’ll think of a bazillion more reasons why I love Final Fantasy 14, but for now… that’s enough. I’ve blathered for almost 1k words about it already.

I’m always looking for people to talk to while I’m playing, and those who won’t be complete asshats to me when I need to do the dungeons (I… am not good at dungeons, mostly cause I avoid doing them unless I absolutely have to). So feel free to look up my character. I’m Makara Aviyah on there, for now, (lolz, as much as I love it I eventually want to have an alt of each of the different races).

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You can find my very sparse profile on Enjin if you want it and I’m always so grateful for people who send me ways (game cards, crysta etc) that helps me keep playing because gods know I can’t really afford it on what little I make as a writer.

Sometimes… you just need a little escape from your life. For me, for now (and probably for as long as I can keep playing) FFXIV is that for me.

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And oddly enough, it actually seems to help when I’m stuck with the writing thing. Gaming has always sort of done that for me. But I’m finding that since most of my writing work is speculative fiction of some sort, playing in someone else’s conceptual world helps me come up with mine.

Did I mention that it’s pretty? Lolz.

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Oh… and you get to ride a chicken-horse. That eventually learns to fight with you. XD

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Did I mention that I’m addicted yet?

All images are from the Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn website.

My username is KaelanRhy on the game, in case you want to find me that way.

I’m a broken, beautiful mess… am I safe with you?

Um… all sorts of CWs on this. I’m gonna be frank.

I am. I’m broken. I’m like one of those Japanese Kintsugi potteries. Shattered, broken by life, and somehow glued back together with precious stuff… the stuff of my soul, maybe.

Sometimes it’s been the kindness of friends. Regardless, I’m broken. I think with the Kintsugi work, the end result is stronger, but for me? It just makes me more fragile.

I crack, I break, I hurt too easily. It’s probably because I’m autistic that I don’t see it coming (and gods, as many times as this has happened, you’d really think I’d get a clue) but I don’t.

I never really know what will make me shatter again. I have an inkling, I mean… I know that abandonment is a HUGE issue for me.

I have trust issues to start with so when I let someone in *at all* anymore it’s a HUGE act of trust for me. I mean… HUGE.

And that absolutely applies to social media. (Which, because I’m disabled, is close to my ONLY social interaction, so yeah, it’s important to me.) Some people seem able to take social media as this… take it or leave it light hearted thing.

I don’t seem to be able to do that.

I’m not certain if my complete lack of a ‘middle ground’ is an autistic thing or not, but for me it’s really all or nothing.

I’m either invested in something or someone, or I’m not… at all.

I know some of my friends regard this as unhealthy, and it probably is, but at this point in my years, it’s just a me thing. I think I’m too old and set in my ways to change it, if I even *could* change it.

I support my ‘mutuals’ (people who we follow one another on twitter/insta etc) with everything that I am. I review their books, crow from the heavens if I liked the books a lot, I recommend the books. Same goes for artists etc.

But I stop doing that if they hurt me.

I mean… any creativity field is an absolute quagmire of struggling to get by, so I do what *I can* to help my mutuals.

And no… mutuals don’t automatically mean ‘friends’ either. Not to me, anyway.

But they do mean something more than internet strangers as well.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this. I’ve had to take a hiatus from twitter, again, because I’m feeling so fragile. I can’t leave it completely because all of my income comes through it, so I’ll still maintain my presence *a bit*. It won’t be like it usually is for me, not til I feel better.

I just… I wonder how much pain I can take? I wear my heart on my sleeve and I give any relationship I commit to 150%…

Yet I rarely receive that in return. But as one person suggested to me, there is *nothing* that people do that is *at all* personal. Sometimes people gotta do what is right for them, regardless of the harm they do to another.

It is an innate truth. One I learned somewhere along the line, but I’m grateful for the reminder.

People are gonna do what they’re gonna do, but every time something like a mutual leaving without giving me a heads-up (one I’ve started to get close to offering that kind of friendship to) well… it breaks my faith in humanity one little bit more.

It makes me look around at my circle of people I actually *do* regard as friends and wonder which one of them I’ll prove to be too messy for next.

It makes me wonder which one I’ll drive off next time I’m autistic on social media, or next time I fuck something else up (which I probably don’t even realize is a fuck up because allistic rules MAKE NO SENSE!)

And that kind of lack of trust in people who do, by all evidence, seem to want to be close to me, seem to want to have me in their lives… what kind of a toll is that taking on people that I actually DO think of as friends?

Having a friend not trust you is not cool, it really isn’t. I hate that feeling. So what is my broken assed self *DOING* to my friends when I have moments where I’m looking around and wondering if I can trust any of them?

But it’s just me. I’m just *that* broken. I’ve been abused, harmed, shat on, attacked and hurt so much in my life that it’s so easy, too easy, to look for it coming at me again.

To expect it.

You kick a dog enough, it’s going to start expecting people to kick.

I expect everyone to hurt me, and that is just all kinds of fucked up, isn’t it?

I hope my actual friends understand this about me. That it’s really not a *them* thing, it’s totally a *me* thing.

But how much of my *me* can they take? I’m intense. I know that. It’s caused problems for me my entire damned life.

I’m, in essence, absolutely broken… and I ask myself if I’m safe with any of my friends far too often.

Not cool, Kae, not cool.