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Tag Archives: prejudice

04.14.2014

The Truth and a Lot of Ot…

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Whenever someone comments on a book I’ve written or read, and comments on how this or that didn’t meet their expectations, I wonder whether they realize the books are rarely written for any single reader in mind. They might be written for the more general idea of “readers,” but most often—at least I hope so—they’re written for the author, because the stories just need to get out.

I’ve often gotten comments about writing females that are either “surprisingly nice” or “total bitches.” I’ve also had people say there was a male character who was a total shit in the story, and other comments that say another male character was really well written and surprisingly nice.

I have no clue why any of that should be surprising. Why? Because while I write fiction, I try to keep it realistic to a point. In real life, ALL WOMEN AREN’T BITCHES and ALL MEN ARE NOT ASSHOLES. Yes, there are both in this world, everyone knows someone like that, but those can’t be the only kind of people we write. Not even when that bitch you still hate like nobody else wants to end up as a character in your book.

People have different views and different experiences in life. Everyone looks at what they read or watch or even write from their own, more or less narrow view. Sometimes something an author has written in a book upsets or even insults them. Like my dear friend Anna Martin says, in that case the only thing for the author to do is to say “I’m sorry.”

I’d add that the next thing is to move on and hope the reader can deal, because while authors have to take responsibility over what they write, we don’t always get to choose what we write. The muses don’t work that way. But a reader ALWAYS has the choice of what to read. They have the choice of not picking up another book of an author whose work upset or insulted them, ever again. Or even if they just plain disliked someone’s book.

Another thing that recently came up for me personally was a review I happened to see. It was something I’d seen before, and it went a little bit like this: “I had the same problem with this book I have had with other books by Tia Fielding before.” I won’t even mention what the problem was, specifically. I don’t have to, to make my point. This boils down to the previous paragraph in my ramble: a reader never HAS TO read another book by author they don’t like or they had been disappointed with.

If I didn’t like, say Nutella, but kept trying it over and over again and telling people left and right now I STILL don’t like Nutella, wouldn’t they think I’m nuts? (Pun not intended.) Seriously? There’s a quote of unclear origins that fits this example to a T.

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

In the case of a reader leaving low rating reviews over and over again (and a handful of other readers doing the same thing) it might actually lead to drops in average ratings and then low sales for an author who only wrote what their muse and his/her wicked plot bunnies dictated them to.

I also bumped into this thing today: coming out or not coming out in books (or in real life). Now there are readers and authors alike who might try to take the high road on their high horse and claim that it’s wrong for a character in a book to NOT come out. Like choosing to be closeted might be a Bad Thing.

I firmly believe in choice and responsibility, and I believe in them in that exact order. Would I write a story about someone who from the beginning to the end of the book abuses a spouse with clear conscience and makes it into a good thing? No, because that’s plain wrong in all sort of ways I also find WRONG outside my writing. I wouldn’t go against my own beliefs in my writing and show it in a good light. That’s my artist’s integrity speaking, and my integrity as a person.

Coming out is different. There is no right answer to whether someone should come out or not, and this goes with both fiction and real life. Whenever someone screams that this or that celebrity should just come out already to support the GLBTQ community, I look at them blankly. Yes, I think it would benefit the community, but you do not make those decisions for someone else.

Coming out, whether you’ve had to do it or not yourself, whether you had positive or negative results yourself, is yours only when YOU are the one coming out in YOUR personal life.

You, whoever you are, do NOT own the coming out process of someone else, real or fictional. I can’t stress this enough, really. As someone who has had to come out in real life, the thought of someone dictating another person’s truth is just insane to me.

Everything about coming out is about truth. You might see not coming out as lying, and frankly I don’t give a shit if you do or if you think it’s detrimental to the GLBTQ community, because it’s someone else’s truth, and sometimes it’s better to lie to protect yourself or those around you. The reasons are as many as there are people in the closet or out in the open. But they’re not your reasons.

Okay, today’s rant is done. Finally. I hope you’re having a nice time-of-the-year wherever you are, and please do stay tuned to my blog, because I have a fun little thing (weird author interviews is the most accurate way to describe it all) coming up in the near future in weekly posts.

 

 

 

07.22.2012

Writing Sex -- Or Not?

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I’ve been struggling to write recently, and once again someone brought up the “writing sex for the sake of sex” thing in conversation.

I don’t know about other authors, but I would never write sex for the sake of sex. To sell more books to those who read M/M books for smut. Nope. Not my thing.

If my characters have sex in my stories, they do it for a reason. But the reason is never because I, the writer, thought “well this is a good spot to insert some smexin’”. Even in Technically Dead, in which there’s more sex than in say, By Any Other Name, the sex scenes are there to demonstrate the characters’… well, character. The relationships they have.

Let’s take Bran, for example. He has sex with several people who are not the love of his life. He has sex to feel connected, for comfort, for control. And because it’s fun as hell to have sex with either people you don’t know at all or people who know exactly which of your buttons you might want pushed at any given occasion. No, not my personal opinions, but Bran’s.

Whenever I see a book reviewed as “PWP” or “PWPish” yet I find the blurb interesting, I give the book a chance. I might actually skim some sex scenes if they’re CLEARLY there for the sake of it. But there are plenty of ways to write sex and not all of the “innecessant” sex annoys me. Most of it does, though, I’ll tell you that right now.

I want sex in the books I read if it belongs in them. Same with my writing. I’ve written stories with next to no sex compared to page count (By Any Other Name, Something New) stories where there’s a lot of sex compared to page count (Technically Dead, Lucky, Unwind) and something in between. All this is relative, by the way, what is a lot of sex for my stories, might be peanuts for other writers.

This is exactly why I don’t believe all the reviews I see that say the story has too much sex. I’d rather take a look myself, because the reviewer might be wrong, they might not agree with the kind of sex the characters are having, or they might just feel like there shouldn’t be sex at all or it shouldn’t be as graphic as it is. Everything is relative.

For example, not everyone finds handcuffs sexy. That’s their quirk, not mine. ;)

05.02.2012

My only comment about Fif…

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Today I’m reblogging a post. This is from a good friend of mine and she put my thoughts into words better than I ever could.

Fifty Shades & The “Philadelphia Incident” (as originally posted by hidingfromsome1)
I’m not really sure if this is the best place to voice these opinions and concerns. And I’m not really sure if it’s my place to be voicing them at all. This whole topic isn’t easy for me to discuss (it’s very personal) but I’ve never been very good at keeping my mouth shut when I think I have a point to make. 
So – I’ve found over recent weeks two different hot topics that I’ve been paying attention to have apparently dovetailed.
I’m talking about the Fifty Shades of Grey series, an adapted Twilight- fan fiction which has been published and hit the New York Times Bestsellers list, and what people in the BDSM community have been calling the “Philadelphia Incident”.
To briefly bring those not familiar with either topic up to date; Fifty Shades of Grey is a story that deals with a young, naive virgin who enters into a domination and submission relationship with an older, powerful, controlling man. Eventually she manages to bring out his softer side and the two fall in love.
The “Philadelphia Incident” concerns a younger, inexperienced female submissive who entered into a domination and submission relationship with an older dominant man. Her limits were violated and she was forced to enter into oral sex with the man against her will. Some people in the BDSM community are calling this rape. Some people have suggested that the submissive woman consented. Others have criticised the submissive woman for not fully understanding what she was getting herself into. The young woman has now been run out of her home due to the criticism, publicity and notoriety she has faced.
Hopefully my point is already becoming clear.
In her novels E L James romanticizes the BDSM community, takes elements of ‘play’ out of context and dramatises what many would consider to be extremely unsafe D/s practice. The female in the story enters into ‘scenes’ which she is unsure about, where limits have not been pre-discussed or agreed, and where she is abandoned post-scene on more than one occasion with no after care or conversation about what had happened during the session.
The novel completely ignores elements of safe play that those familiar with the BDSM community would immediately recognise. RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. SSC stands for Safe, Sane and Consensual. (Note the repeated word in both anagrams). This topic is completely ignored or glossed over in James’ novels and, considering the reaction they have amassed, this is a concern.
Safe BDSM play can be amazing. I can say this as someone who has both dominated others and submitted to others in a range of situations. It is something that I rarely discuss other than with those in the community for fear of repercussions – BDSM is fairly misunderstood by the wider public. In the right circumstances, with the right forethought, planning, and discussion then there are still hundreds of ways a session can go wrong. I have been mid-session with someone who I love very much, in a safe place, when we were both fully aware of each other’s limits. And I panicked. And ended up vomiting into the toilet and crying into his chest. This was an isolated incident, and we weren’t doing anything particularly risky at the time. But I still panicked. Fortunately my partner was fantastic at releasing me quickly and soothing me afterwards. Even with the best of intentions things can still go very wrong.
Although I have not followed reaction to James’ novel closely, one article I recently read criticising the BDSM elements in the story was met with comments from a reader expressing that the story is fantasy, not unlike the Harry Potter stories or Twilight, and not as a how-to guide of BDSM.
Firstly, thank God this isn’t a how-to guide of BDSM because James clearly has little, if any experience of D/s relationships. Secondly, this point in particular scared me more than any other I read.
If one was to dress in a cloak and wand and pretend to be a wizard, short of poking an eye out there is a limited amount of danger that could occur.
If a young woman with no experience of BDSM was to make her way into the community and play with an older man when she herself was unaware of her own limits, very terrible things can happen, as demonstrated recently in Philadelphia. Comparing Fifty Shades to Harry Potter is simply ludicrous, on many levels. There are many different layers and elements to BDSM, starting at fluffy handcuffs and ending in blood, tears and rape. Someone pretending to be a wizard will not experience these things.
The second point made by the same commenter was that James never intended for the novel to be so popular, it was released for a very small audience only and she was surprised at the reaction it has received. I don’t think this argument holds much weight either. I’m writing this article for the consumption of a very small audience too. I do not expect many people to read or react to it. Does that excuse me from factual accuracy? Not at all. If my article goes viral and thousands of people read it then I am still responsible for the words that I have put out there.
Finally, I want to reiterate that a huge majority of people in the BDSM community recognise our vulnerability (BDSM is actually illegal in the United States – yes, illegal – I’m fortunate to live in the UK) and as such, instances such as the “Philadelphia Incident” are rare. Most people play by the rules of RACK. Most people are responsible for themselves, for their partners, and there is a strong sense of ‘mentoring’ to ensure that newbies to the community are watched and are able to learn from those with more experience. Despite all this, it’s too easy for things to be taken just that one step too far with disastrous results.
I feel like it is my responsibility as one of the people who bridges the gap between the BDSM community and the Fifty Shades readership to speak out against the practices shown in the series. Please, please – if you are a single woman who has read these stories and wants to explore the topics contained therein, do everything you can to not follow in the footsteps of both E L James’ characters and the young girl in Philadelphia. Take your time. Find someone you can trust. Be safe. 

(Please feel free to re-blog, re-post, re-tweet, link, copy, plagiarize, do whatever the hell you want with the above. It would be nice if you credited it back to me but in truth, if you want to stick this somewhere else where it might be seen by more people, please, do it. I’m not precious. Spread the word.)

08.20.2011

About respect and writing

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I vented about this on Twitter last night, but it didn’t leave me alone like I thought it would.

When we write, and by we, I mean us females who write M/M-romance, we get so much prejudice, so much “You can’t do that” thrown our way it feels that much worse, when we get it from another writer.

Now, I’m thinking the issue is mostly “girls can’t write guy/guy”-stuff. Bullshit. Anyone who is creative, has the words and the emotions, can write what ever they want. It’s just about being a good writer.

We also have people who write to aspire being The Great M/M-romance Writer, and then we have people like yours truly, who wants to write for people who like to read for the entertainment value. I don’t CARE if I’m the next big thing out there, but I do respect those who actually are. I’m not ambitious like that, I write because I have no choice.

Now, then there are people who look down on us poor beings who write entertainment. And I’m looking at one certain male author at the moment, singling him out because he singled us out first. I read his “how to write M/M-romance”-guide, and it came across terribly prejudiced and condescending. There was no respect what so ever for us who like to write things he doesn’t write.

In fact, this gentleman takes it as far as making this prejudice and disrespect part of his own books. There is a series of his that I liked a lot, that didn’t contain this as much as the NEXT series did. The next series… Let’s just say, the main character is a writer who dislikes and mocks everything he doesn’t like. This, incidentally, is exactly what the author of the series does not write.

So when did he turn his writing, which by the way is pretty good all the time, award-winning even, into a tool for disrespecting the people who don’t write the kind of books he does? I don’t know, and I frankly don’t care. He’s talented, he is, but when he works something like this into his books, I just throw my hands up and wonder what the hell did he and/or his editor see in this next quote.

She was a big girl. A very, very big girl. One of those very big girls who you fear won’t live to see forty if they don’t take action now.

Is this how he sees all women that are “big”? Is this just how he sees “big” women that are writers (as the character referred to in the quote just happens to be)?

Whatever the reason of this sort of politically very incorrect sh—stuff being published by someone who is supposed to be an author for us to look up to, I only have one thing to say; I quit.

I quit reading his books, and I’ll hold my chubby head up high and keep writing stuff that I and my readers find entertaining. They might never be the next big thing that wins awards, but hey, at least I did my best?

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