Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Have You Dissed Another Author Lately?

     Welcome to my home away from home.
     For those of you who have dropped in for your first visit, I hope you’ll come back from time to time.
     I don’t post nearly as often as I should, but perhaps that will change now that summer is about to officially begin, and I’ll be able to take a break from chauffeuring my kids around.
     I host a plethora of authors here, and that’s my favorite part of having a blog. Authors helping authors is a sincere form of flattery because, let’s face it, unless we’re published by one of those big-time, out of reach publishing houses, authors have to do most of our own promotion ourselves. It’s all part of the job description.
     Promotion can become quite costly, but as I've learned over the last few years, it doesn’t have to be if we help each other out. My readers might not know about some of the guests I feature, and the same goes when I visit another blog. Blog hopping, and swapping, opens doors that might have never been opened otherwise.
     I’ve always considered promoting other authors as part of what I refer to as, “Paying it Forward.”
    I have met some fabulously creative and amazing authors. My experience has been, for the most part, quite lovely and positive…until recently.
     Not long ago, last June to be exact, my writing took a sharp turn when I started writing under my pseudonym, Tyler Robbins.
     The world accepted this change, and I’ve done my best to make sure I’ve handled this new persona, and the genre Tyler writes, responsibly, and with great caution, and sensitivity to the subject matter.
     If you haven’t read any of Tyler’s wildly popular books, she writes gay romance. Her characters are generally deeply closeted men, or men who are on the verge of being open about their sexuality who just needed a little nudge in the form of the perfect love interest … their very own Mr. Right!!
     I’ve enjoyed this journey immensely because it’s allowed me to explore my own curiosities and address stereotyping about not only gay men, but men in general.
     I’ve asked a lot of questions, done a lot of research, and carefully thought long and hard about each of my characters; who they are, what they want to say, and where they want life to take them.
    My stories encourage practicing safe sex, monogamous relationships, and definitely supports fidelity in every book I have ever written. My gay romances uphold those same ideals, as well they should.
     I’ve never denied using caution when I first took my writing in this direction, and I certainly haven't tried to hide my true identity. My goal was never to hide behind Tyler, but rather give her a voice all her own. And so far, she’s the only one having any success, and her fan base is growing larger every day. I can’t describe how exciting, and even humbling, that has been.
     I have been quite proud of my efforts, until a short while ago when my feelings were deeply hurt. I've been insulted many times over the years, so this was not a first time experience for me. 
     In fact, I was told once by a fellow author, that she wouldn’t read my books because they were erotic. (Not just Tyler’s books, but even my male/female books). I considered her extremely conservative religion, and shook it off. Some people don’t want raw passion and consummation in a story unless it’s behind closed doors, and that’s perfectly fine. I get it.
     I gave it some thought and figured, what the heck, she wasn’t my target audience anyway. No harm, no foul.
     Since then, I’ve paid more attention to which authors lend a hand to help, and I have been amazed by the positive response Tyler has received. So many of you out there in Publishingland are amazing. 
     That’s how it's supposed to be; authors helping authors. At least, that's what I've been told since I first stepped foot into this world in 2009.
     Then, it happened again. Another author contacted me privately, saying she would be discontinuing her association with me because of the nature of my writing … since I’ve been writing erotic romance for three years, and she hadn’t had a problem with it before, I naturally came to the conclusion that this sudden change of heart had to have been because of Tyler.
     

Now, mind you, Tyler’s first book. “Beyond Honor” released in June of 2012, and has done fairly well compared to my thirteen previously published books under my real name. 

Readers have been very kind to this book and I am forever in their debt.
Equality for American soldiers as well as everyone else, is a subject near and dear to my heart. Not to mention the fact that a married, heterosexual soldier and his wife are responsible for me writing it in the first place. Go figure!
     


The second book, “Immortal Thirst” blurred the line a bit as a ménage, so its slow rise to stardom wasn't much of a surprise, nor did it break my spirit with it's lackluster success. It was a fun story I enjoyed writing just to see how far I could stretch the boundaries of my imagination, and tiptoe into uncharted waters.
I'm pleased to say that it's still being purchased and read, and holding its own. Yaay!!
     

Then came “A Beautiful Lie”, which has been nothing short of a beautiful surprise!!
Readers have feasted on this story, and have raved about every tasty morsel, which has delighted me to no end. Even the least flattering reviews haven’t totally ripped me to shreds, and I am thankful for that.
This story was set in the town where I was born and still currently live, and although fictionalized, and not based on real people, it has left a deep impression on so many readers who've contacted me about it. Their support and thoughts on the story have truly touched my heart. 

     I’d come to think I’d found my calling.
     So, imagine my heartbreak to discover that the worst blow I would receive wouldn’t come from a dissatisfied reader, or even a conservative reader lashing out against homosexuality, but rather, another author whom I’ve gladly promoted many, many times over the years.
     It was in that moment that I realized how much stock we actually put into the opinions of our peers.
     I must, however, take responsibility for my part in this situation by foolishly allowing another writer to hurt me. I should have known better, and I should have followed the advice of my inner-circle and rebuffed the entire event. Instead, I was caught completely off-guard, and took it much harder than I should have. Maybe it was because I had a lot going on with my daughter graduating high school, and perhaps I was being overly sensitive. Who knows. 
     Looking back now, I’m reminded of the mean girls in those teen movies who stare down their noses at the one girl who dares to be different. Their comments often hit below the belt, even though put in such a way it could almost sound like a compliment.
     It goes against every fiber of my being to renounce another writer simply because their writing isn’t conducive with the genre I write, and trust me, it’s the main reason I don’t give reviews. I’m no expert on historicals, sci-fi, and a number of other genres. I don’t read them, so naturally, I can’t give an unbiased opinion.
      I simply can’t bring myself to say anything bad about writers who are in the same place I am in their career. My opinion isn’t all that important, so why talk down to someone who writes something different than what I write? It would serve no purpose, and would just make me look, and feel, like an ass.
      I write gay romance in a world where prejudice is something a lot of people pretend no longer exists, and many find it easy to hide behind religion, with no regard to the blatant fact that not everyone is of the same mind when it comes to religious beliefs, nor are they required to be.
     I get it, I really do. Not everyone believes in equality, and the right to be who they are. And not every writer is going to include sex or even sexuality in their stories, and that’s their right to do as they feel best for who they are as an artist.
     I’m me, and I write what I feel in my heart is real, and sometimes the truth is ugly, and uncomfortable, but it’s still the truth.
     Love and romance are the same.
     Heterosexual couples don’t love any more or less than gay/lesbian couples. Heterosexuals are no more faithful or capable of maintaining long-term, monogamous relationships than their gay/lesbian counterparts.
     And in that respect, mainstream romance authors are no better than erotic authors, nor should they be held in higher esteem because they choose not to include sex in their books.
     That way of thinking would be absurd, and a whole other kind of bias.
     If you have ever followed me on any social media sites, you would know that I don’t post sexually explicit material, except the occasional sexy photo on hump day, and even those are clothed and never too risqué.
     I try to be positive in everything I post. Okay, so I go overboard with photos of my kids and our pets. And look out during football season, you might get bonked upside the head with flying Houston Texans' memorabilia. 
     I’m also careful to post warnings on my blogs when sexual content will be displayed. I take that very seriously because the last thing I want to do is offend someone.
     I make myself quite clear as often as I can that other authors should not feel obligated to promote me or my books. I’m okay if they don’t. If someone doesn’t approve of what I write, or who I promote, they don’t have to follow me, or subscribe to my posts. It’s just that simple.
     As an author, I owe my success, and even my self-esteem, to other authors. Without that support system, this journey would be an uphill battle, and certainly not as much fun as it has been so far.
     I rely on my peers to cheer me on as I cheer them on. We’re on the same team, share similar stories, express ourselves in much the same way, and when we’re together, we become like family, understanding each other in ways our real families often times cannot.
     I’ve said many times over the years that nobody gets another writer like another writer. We’re a special breed of people, and speak a language all our own.
     When the chips are down, nobody can guide you through the minefield better than another author who’s gone through before you.

     So, if you find yourself in this situation, my advice, whatever it’s worth, is this:

     If you come across an author whose books aren’t quite your cup of tea, move on.
     Never say anything negative to them, or make them feel like they aren’t on your same level because the material in their books aren’t the same as yours. If you start thinking, or acting like you’re better than someone, trust me, someone else will inevitably come along and do the same to you. It doesn't feel  very nice at all. 
     If you don’t like what someone writes, quietly un-friend them, don’t follow back, or just fade into the background altogether. No need to hurt their feelings, or make a big fuss. I don’t mean to be rude, but if you don’t interact with them on a regular basis, and don’t frequent the same writing groups, chances are they probably won’t notice anyway.
     For heaven’s sake, don’t tell them what you’re doing or why, no matter how casual or polite you intend to be, because you never know just how hurtful your words might be to them personally and/or creatively. Stifling another writer's muse is not pretty, and it's unnecessary. 
     I always revert back to kindergarten, and remember that rule my mama told me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
     If you don’t care for the content of a certain genre, or if a genre goes against your religious or moral beliefs, nobody expects you to compromise yourself just to show your support.   

     And never tell another author that you’ll remain connected to them on social networks as long as they guarantee never to post anything about their own books on their own page. That’s rude, inconsiderate, insulting, and completely uncalled for.
     Statements like that speak more about your character than that of the author you’re singling out.
     When all is said and done, we're all in the same boat together. We can be a sensitive bunch who treat our books like our children, and as such, we naturally parent in different ways. You might prefer to teach your kids abstinence, while I might encourage waiting for marriage, too, but still suggest condoms as a backup plan just in case my kids don't listen. 
    This industry can be harsh enough without authors hurting other authors. 
     When we work together, and treat each other with respect, it's a truly beautiful sight to behold. 
     THAT'S the world I want to be a part of. 

     Anyone caring to leave a comment, please feel free to speak your heart, but also please remember to be courteous to others whose opinions might differ from your own.
     Carry on my lovelies, and let's get some writing done!!!!

2 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you had this experience with a fellow author. I sat in on a workshop called "Writer's Karma" once and I think it's very trues. It will circle around to that author.

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  2. I always try to be positive and supportive with other writers. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" and "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" are two very good rules to follow, not just in the writing world but in any dealings with other people.

    Being a compulsive reader as much as I am a writer, I do write reviews. I like most of the books I read, and I become a cheerleader for them and their authors - it's what I'd want someone to do for me. Rarely, I read a book I don't particularly like. I'll give it an honest review, but never a mean review. I'll always give specific reasons why I thought the book could have been done differently or why I didn't click with it. I let other potential readers know that their opinions may be totally different. A lot of people don't like Jennifer Lopez movies, for example, but I love them, so I know that one reviewer's opinion often makes no difference to how well you'll like any given story. We all have different tastes.

    I understand that not everyone likes the erotica/erotic romance genre, and even people who do don't care for certain subgenres (like M/M - it doesn't appeal to everybody). That's fine, but it's not an excuse to behave badly, online or in real life. I like what Missy Jane said about "author karma." That's a good phrase to remember.

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