Dear authors of the world #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all – we made it through another one! Before I get any further first I want to shout out to all the fathers (in whatever form they take), and wish you all a very Happy Fathers Day. This weekend I’ll be off visiting with the familial sorts, including my own father, and do god only knows what. I keep getting texts of updated itemized itineraries – and this, right here in a nutshell, is why I only go home a couple times a year. They be cray-cray! But enough about the genetic insanity that flows through my ancestral lineage, onto today’s post.

Dear Authors of the world, you’d better buckle up, this one’s likely to sting! (to paraphrase a social media celebrity I quite enjoy following).

For the love of all that is shiny and bright in the universe – USE SPELL CHECK. No, I’m not merely talking about your books (although you should), and I’m not merely talking about your emails (although you really should), and I am not merely talking about your newsletters (although you really, really should). No, what I AM talking about is on social media – whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever. THIS SHIT LIVES FOREVER. You may delete it from your feed, but you all should know by now there are people out there, evil and petty people, who live to make other folks lives miserable and they’ve already done a screen shot. They stalk you, plot against you, and yet have never met you face to face. You are their own personal Goliath, and they have devious, insidious, and plain dumb ass plans to “take you down”. Stop giving them the fucking ammo! Use spell check, or if you do make a mistake, FIX IT!

I cannot tell you how many posts I’ve read, from otherwise elegantly eloquent authors, which have me wondering if their accounts have been hacked by some brain eating, disease ridden alien. Because trying to equate someone who writes books which suck you in, and won’t let you go to the crap being spouted on social media – now that there be one hell of a noggin’ scratcher.

In no way am I saying you need to be perfect, no one is, but do try your best. And, for the love of all that’s fluffy and delightfully soft in the universe, stop with the text speak. 1) I really hate having to look up some of these acronyms, and 2) you look like an fool. We’ve all heard the saying to “use your words”. Well, if you are trying to keep your brand untainted, and create the right image for who you want to be seen as, you need to be consistent in all things. Don’t fucking fly off the handle on some random ass rant when you’ve never done it before. And use the English language as it was intended, to be concise and precise in getting across your point.

Now go slap some ice on that sting, and open a damn dictionary once in a while would you.

Rip the blinders off #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Welcome to another Friday post folks. Gotta say, this week was better than last. My back, and hip are doing much better which makes me a much happier camper. The fact I can sit for more than ten minutes at a go makes everything easier – including writing. Today’s post is going to be some realities that, while covered before in various posts, need to be covered again. After all, no one considering becoming a published author should go into things blind. And many authors need a reminder. That being said, everything below is my personal view point, and/or opinion and no one else has had say in what I’ve posted.

Writing a book is easy. It damn well shouldn’t be. Yes, some stories come easier than others, but this is something that will be representing you for decades to come. Do you really want something out there you whipped up in an hour?

Every good idea’s already been done to death. Not by you it hasn’t. Every author in the world could write every fairy tale (for example) and not one of them would be the same as the others. Because not one author is the same as any other author. We all have our own views, our own thoughts, our own perceptions that make our fairy tale unique.

Being a full time author is the only way to go. If you can feasibly manage it, absolutely but most new authors (and even some long time authors) can’t. You need to be realistic, and do the math because you will NOT be making any money to live off of in the first year. Buy a cup of coffee, or get a decent meal – sure, live off, not even if you hit the NYT best sellers list. That first year sees more money going out than staying in your pocket. Which leads into a huge myth….

It’s an easy way to make tons of money. Stop right there. If you are in this only to make money then you need to reevaluate immediately. An author is an artist. Their art, the words they use to tell their vision, is a development that takes time, thought, and refinement. Pumping out works just to make money is what has caused a flooded market, and takes money away from those of us who are putting our hearts, and souls into every book we create.

There’s always ways to make it to the #1 spot. There are. Moral, and immoral ways. Moral ways are doing the work, putting out the best product possible, and advertising until your fingers fall off – all to gain the purchases that push you to the top. Immoral ways include “gaming the system”. This involves things like key word titles, specific tags that pull your book into nearly every genre on a site, and several other scummy tricks that take thousands of dollars away from hard working, honest authors. Don’t take the easy way out, in the end it hurts us all, but it will give you a black mark you’ll never get rid of.

Using pieces of other authors works. This is called, say it with me, PLAGIARISM. Or if that’s too tough for you to say, try THEFT or PIRACY. Yup, you got it. While you may “love” how an author wrote a particular section, use it for inspiration to make your own work better, don’t go and steal it in part or whole. For one thing, readers always can tell when they’ve read something previously even if it’s in an entirely different context. Particular words, turns of phrases are an entirely different beast – every author picks up something from their favorite reads and incorporates it into their write. But decent, law abiding authors do not EVER steal copyrighted material from another author. Can you say LAWSUIT? You will if you ever do this, and it could well cost you more than you have. Trust me, there have been several cases where a reader outed an author for their devious theft of materials. And they will never, ever write or earn a living again because of it.

Pseudonyms are good/bad. Many authors write under their own names. Authors, like myself for example, write under a pseudonym. I personally do it because of my day job work environment, and the requirement to keep my writing very separate from my real life existence. Other authors use a pseudonym because of family issues, privacy issues, or just because that’s what they’ve decided to do. The choice is entirely yours, and not something anyone else can decide for you. If you are comfortable with everyone you’ve ever known from diapers to today knowing you write whatever genre you’re going to be writing, use your own name. But whichever way you go, always keep your real life social media 100% separate from your author social media if you have young children. I say this only as a safety measure, and the fact authors can attract some weird (Misery by Stephen King anyone?) followers.

Publisher vs. going Indie. Again, this is something that only you can decide on. Each has their pros and their cons. See Jules Dixon’s post from Monday this week for some info on that, but do your own research. Some people, like myself, don’t have the time in the day to be an Indie author – you are literally responsible for everything. Others have the multi tasking gene to the extreme and thrive in such an environment. To each their own.

Social media options. There are many, and again this will be your personal preference what you do and do not get involved with. Facebook is a good start, and gives you the options of Pages. Twitter has it’s pros and cons, just like everything else out there. Do some research, talk to other authors in your position (publisher or Indie), and figure out works best for you. You can always get rid of, or take on more as you go along and discover what’s benefiting your career.

And last, but not least, one last myth that needs to be dispelled.

Making it to the New York Times (NYT) best seller list. For 99.5% of authors this is a fantasy. Do we all wish we could see our names on their list? Abso-fucking-lutely! It’s a huge coup for an author. But the reality is that in an over saturated market it is harder now than it was twenty years ago to get there. The other harsh reality you need to swallow is that you likely need to have an agent, be with a traditional (aka: paperback/hard cover print first) publisher, and have your editor on call at all hours to even get close. E-publishers aren’t in the same hemisphere as the traditional publishers. It’s much easier to get your book published through an e-publisher, like Evernight, but becoming a best seller is a lot harder. And being an Indie is even tougher. But nothing is impossible, and it’s always good to hold onto at least one dream no matter what it might be. It’s what keeps us motivated, writing, and creating new and fantastic stories each and every day.

Best piece of advise I have ever been given – never stop writing. Pretty simple, and yet some day’s it’s the most challenging thing ever.

One size doesn’t fit all #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Welcome one and all. As we continue to shake things up on the blog I now get to post on a brand new day. This is going to take some getting used to I have to admit. I usually get a few hours to contemplate my post(s), all while sipping one of my many cups of coffee on a Saturday. So bear with me if my spelling mistakes suddenly take a huge upsurge in frequency, lol!

Today I want to discuss authors who are trying to be all things, to all people in their writing. Like my title says, one size doesn’t fit all. There is literally no way in this time or any other where you, the author, can satisfy every single person who will read your story. It is mathematically impossible.

There will always be someone, somewhere (usually in multiples) who has an issue with something about what you’ve written. Whether it’s the time, the location, the clothing, the language, the sex (it’s usually something about sex), how long the story is, how short it is, how much you/your publisher charged for it (that’s the other very popular complaint), the cover (pretty rare), or your creative interpretation or licence in regards to some detail (especially with real world places/locations). No matter how hard you try to write something that “shouldn’t” offend anyone – let me be straight with you here and now – there WILL ALWAYS be someone you offend.

Roughly 90% of the time it’s someone who just likes to hear themselves toot their own offended horn. 5% of the time it’s someone who didn’t a) read the description of your book (how dare you write an erotic romance and put it up where someone might buy it!), or b) disliked something you put in, or how you wrote it up. The other 5% is someone who’s offended by something, goes on a massive tangent, and it has NOTHING to do with your book. At all. As in, they didn’t even read your work but something else entirely, but put their rant and low one star rating on your product. You can usually tell from their overuse of capitalization, long winded sentences without any punctuation, and some reference to some point that never got near your work even in your earliest days of outlining. For example, you wrote a story which is in 19th century France, but they are going on about the fucking robots on Centurion Prime, and such things. These folks we like to recommend reporting and ignoring.

While most authors do try to watch their “turn of phrase” in a book they write, along with any local slang that might confuse a reader, and we all have some that have been part of our language since the first day we began to speak, you can’t go about writing your story while trying to dance across eggshells. As an author you have a solemn duty to yourself, and your characters to write from the heart. Yes, ensuring you are staying accurate with any real world location/event is usually a good idea, but we’re authors. We are licenced to occasionally flex our creative muscles for our stories. If you like a certain building in a certain city you’re writing in, but don’t particularly care for the fact it’s a fashion store go ahead and make it your own. You’re one hundred percent covered. It’s in your legal portion right up front in the book before you hit the good stuff – at least it damn well better be! In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is Evernight’s official “covering of our author asses”:

“This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”

In other words: They know a guy named Joe who they hate, and had to kill in this book because doing it in real is illegal – and they don’t look good in orange. They adore that building in that city and while we know a bunch of you readers live there, they happen to hate what’s in it so for the sake of their story they are stealing the structure and using it for their own evil plans (like a BDSM club, muahaha!). They know all about that big ass war they are referencing as vaguely as possible (or maybe not so much), and you readers who were history buffs totally clued in but for the sake of their story line they moved it a few days/months/years to make it all fit.

Stuff like that.

We write fiction, even those who are writing historical or period works. Fiction, all of it. Which means ignore those folks who are tripping over the fact that you changed up their favorite spot in some city to work into your story. If they have issue direct their uptight selves to said legal speak and continue on with your day. We’re authors, we need to stretch our creative wings to ensure we are remaining true to what our muse has given to us as a gift. Naysayers need not apply.

Now, before I let you go, one last thing. This has been said a few times on here before, but because of what I’ve just written I want to emphasis this here and now. NEVER, EVER GET INTO IT WITH A TROLL. People will leave crappy reviews, so be it. People will leave shitty reviews that are in no way related to your work, report them and move on. People will try to get up in your metaphorical face on social media, remember your zen place and point to the legal stuff before going about your day. Do not EVER get into a battle of words with a troll, or some ignorant fool. They will only drag you down to their level by raising your blood pressure – and they are better at the low blows because that’s all they have ever known.

So, write what makes you happy. Write what makes your characters clamor to be heard. Write what makes you smile, bite your lip, or squirm in your seat. Write for yourself. You cannot please everyone in this life, so don’t let them take a second away from what you are doing best. Writing.

Admit when you’re wrong #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Welcome one and all to another #SensualSunday post. First up, I’ve gotta apologize for last weeks post and my boo-boo which has been fixed in the actual post. I blame it entirely on not enough sleep/coffee, the result being a fried brain getting all frazzled and confused. And I’m Canadian, it’s in my genetic makeup to extend a heartfelt apology when I’ve erred. Secondly, this leads into my post today so let’s hit it!

As a species authors can be categorized by many terms, and the longer you do this the more you’ll add to your portfolio. We’re crazy, absent minded, off our rockers, easily distracted by shiny/pretty objects/images, and so much more. It’s our creative nature that has us always searching for new material and ideas. We are who we are, and that’s pretty damn special. But we can make mistakes, we are only human after all.

One thing that every human being on the planet Earth needs to remember, get through their thick skulls, and practice at all times – if you are wrong about something, own the fuck up and admit your mistake. Too many times in the author world I’ve seen someone called out on something they genuinely believed in, but when they came around to realize their error and apologize, they are lamb basted. Come on people, get your heads out of your tightly pinched sphincters and chill. Authors are just as human as you, your neighbor, your co-worker, and everyone else in the world around you are.

Ah, but we’re held to a higher standard aren’t we?

It’s all because of this presumed “fame” we hold because we have published something, have our name on it, and our name is linked to however many dozens of other items on the Net (social media, our web site, author pages, etc). But this does not make us any less human. We were born, had scrapped knees, went to school, got a job (or two, or three), and we have bills to pay. Human right? Damn skippy. So why do readers/fans and others seem to think we are living in glass houses up on a pedestal where we do no wrong? Probably because the moment you gain “fame” in any form you are now no longer classed in the same rankings as the rest of the mere mortals.

If you stick me I bleed, how does the fact that I wrote and had a book published make me more than you?

Yes, there are authors out there who gladly soak up the adulation and don’t care when they screw the pooch. They are not the sort to apologize either, but this doesn’t mean they are not wrong. (I could insert some correlation between this and the US President – but I shall resist…mostly.) They are also not the types anyone should be looking up to, or using as their inspiration to be a better person.

Now, before I degrade into a full on rant let me end this post with this thought. If an author (one book or hundreds) speaks out in error, and you a “mere mortal” correct them and they apologize – fucking just accept it. They have been proven incorrect, and they realize that thus thanking you for pointing out their error in thinking with a heartfelt apology. Don’t lord it over them, don’t be a dick and rub it in repeatedly on social media (I won’t say what that makes you), just be a good human being to another human being and accept.

On the flip side of that, authors if you have been proven wrong, damn well apologize for the error already. Be the better human being, admit you were incorrect and show others how to do the right thing. Be the example people assume we’re supposed to be. We’d all be much better off if people would just apologize. Then we could all get on with living our screwed up little lives.

XO Moira Callahan

You can’t say/write that! #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-SundayIt’s that time once more, another #SensualSunday post with Moira. This week we’re going to discuss a serious topic, and one that is faced more often than folks realize or believe to be true. It’s also a tough one, especially in this day and age where everyone is offended by something or someone. Please note that the below is in no way pointed at any one individual, and the examples used are merely my opinion on the subject.

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Now, I’m not only talking about the book burners, or locking out the media during briefings, but also what we say, how we say it, and as authors our written words.

We authors have faced a lot of censorship over the centuries. There were the book burning’s of works deemed too controversial, or those that turned youths to the ways of Satan, and let’s not even get started on witchcraft, education, or any other reason someone has deemed a book to be unsuitable for our youths to read and thereby it was banned, and yes, in some instances, lit on fire! While I will agree that erotica or pornographic material shouldn’t be in the hands of anyone under the age of majority, and some other topics should have some parental guidance provided, allowing kids to read works that make them think should never be censored. The adage that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” comes to mind. Like any muscle in the body the brain too needs to be exercised, and this comes from critical and contemplative thought. Which the world sorely needs more of.

fotolia_115519302_xsFor example let’s look at the most well known book IN THE WORLD. The Bible. Yup, you read that right. Now, I should mention I am not now nor have I ever been a religious person, it’s not who I am, and this is not about to go down the rabbit hole into religion – this is merely an example everyone on the planet (except in the countries this is banned) can relate to. We’ve all seen The Bible, whether in book stores, in churches for whatever variety of reasons we might be there (sermons, weddings, funerals, etc), in peoples homes, and even in motel/hotel’s in certain areas of the world. Did you know:

  • *North Korea punishes ownership of religious materials; imprisonment or death
  • *China permits churches or seminaries that are part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council to have them, and some bookshops sell them, but they cannot be mail ordered by private citizens, or any unregistered churches
  • *Maldives says citizens must be Muslim, yet permit foreigners to practice their own religion, but only in private; Bibles can be imported only for personal use
  • *Turkmenistan permits the import, with permission by registered churches, but production is not permitted
  • ^North Korea greatly restricted, or straight out banned it
  • ^Russia banned the import of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
  • ^Spain had a prohibition against The Bible, written in Spanish, from the 16th to the 19th century

* Quoted from Quora
^ Quoted from Wikipedia.org

All right, enough of a detour, let’s get back on topic here.

Censorship happens every single day when it comes to books. Hell even the almighty Zon does it to our books each and everyday. Because it is their corporate guideline (ie: some big shot who caved to an individual(s) who didn’t want it/them showing up in their recommendations) that certain books with certain graphics/words/subjects/actions should be deemed “adult” and therefore kept away from the mainstream folks. Okay, I get it. You don’t want your 10 year old niece, who happens to be using your account to shop for her next coloring book off the Zon, being able to buy E.L. James’ book(s) off the Zon so you write in going ballistic and all offended that it should dare to show up in “her” recommended reads, and being the curious sort she is she clicked on it. Thank goodness you happened to wander by the computer before she one-clicked that sucker.

Side note: What have YOU been reading/buying that that book is showing up in “her” recommended feeds? Huh? Huh? Yeah, thought so.

I get where the Zon is coming from on this. They don’t want the angry folks taking offence to something (for no reason at all if they were ACTUALLY adults) bringing their pitchforks and torches to their front door (which happens to be at: 410 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109-5210 if you’re interested). So they go to the absolute extreme. Got a guy with his chest naked and showing his hip bones with a hint of something more on the cover? May end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have your characters going full on bondage scene? fotolia_137449177_xscroppedMay end up being thrown into the adult category. Did you have a character go on a terrible rampage through downtown San Francisco terrorizing citizens, destroying property, and killing large bug like characters? May end up…being that movie I watched last weekend – oops!

And that there is the problem. People go ballistic, lose their shit, and everyone else around them or on the receiving end reacts by going to the extreme. Enough already! Sit down, shut up for five fucking minutes, take some deep breaths, and get your big girl panty wedgie under control – let’s discuss this like the adults we’re all supposed to be. Which is what the Zon should have done. They should have gathered information, had the maniac(s) take a psych eval, done some research on their own, figured out if maybe there was an algorithm that could easily solve the issue, talked with their tech guru’s, and even opened a discussion with those to be affected – the authors. But instead they, in their all knowing position at the top of the pile in the e-Book (and other retail items) world, made a unilateral decision that affected many authors who write of the more adult nature but nowhere near porn level. Just because you’re bigger than the other guy does not make you right.

Before this goes into a full blown rant, let me close this up with some last points and thoughts. We the people (not including countries under dictatorships, or with crazed nuclear holding presidents) do have the right to free speech, our own opinions, and the right to express them in a productive, cognizant manner to make our point/opinion known. We do NOT have the right to be douchenuggets stomping on other people and their freedom to speak, or write what they want as long as they happen to be well-informed, and factual. If they are writing/talking shit then they get what they deserve in return. So, as a whole, if we the people of the world could all pull up our big girl panties, stop being offended over every breath someone takes, and just scroll on past/skip over something that is not to our taste (unless it’s illegal, dangerous, or harmful) I think we would all be much happier in the long run.

And you, yeah you the author type person, be strong. There will be criticism, and there will be folks who pull out their pitchfork over what you’ve written while trying to censor your voice. But know this, as long as you are happy with the end result, and it speaks to who you are while possibly holding a message for someone that may need it right then – FUCK ‘EM ALL.

XO Moira Callahan

Black and white image of loving couple in a bad.

Not my monkeys, not my circus #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you to another #SensualSunday post. The title from today’s post happens to be a (day job) coworkers favorite saying. Not entirely sure where it originated from, but it’s been circling about in my brain nearly constantly for quite a while. Roughly since the US Presidential election really got into the swing of things.

Now, this is NOT a political posting, especially since I am Canadian and really can’t say anything on the American political situation. But it brought up other points that are actually valid for today’s post, and actually relate to being an author. Mainly the fact that folks really do need to keep their two cents to themselves unless they are knowledgeable about the situation and/or subject at hand.

Piss off written on a memoToo many people these days are giving into knee jerk reactions on social media. Particularly authors. This is when you post something without taking a moment to think it through, and consider whether you should actually post it. Not saying that if you have something to say that you shouldn’t give voice to it, on your own page (see Raven’s post from Thursday for more on the subject), but could you possibly think before (re)acting? I realize this might be a stretch for some folks, and yes we all can get tied up in the heat of the moment, but you are a damn author. You are a (minor or major) public figure, a role model to some, inspiration to others, so when you speak out of turn and potentially without correct information/facts, think of who it hurts.

YOU! Your good name, your brand, your hard work up to that point, and your legacy — all those stories you’ve written. It doesn’t matter what the subject might be, there will always be cause and effect.

Your readers see you picking a verbal battle for no reason, throwing out insults or who knows what, and wonder when you turned into such a witch. Your fans, followers, and (formerly) potential readers are being shown a side that colors you in a terrible light. This will stick with them for days, weeks, and years to come. For you that is lost revenue. Don’t think it isn’t. Because no matter how eloquently you apologize, no matter how you beg, plead and grovel, they’ve already moved on. They have blacklisted you from their TBR piles, most likely for life.

Worse yet, they’ve shared your diatribe/rant with others. You know the saying that there’s no better publicity than word of mouth? That goes double for bad publicity. Think about it. Good deeds in the news — buried behind the splashy stuff. Bad deeds/fuck-ups in the news — FULL FRONT PAGE COLOR SPREAD. Don’t end up the front page, it’s not dangerous loveworth it for two seconds of a smack down on someone you don’t know beyond social media. The average is, for every person that reads good/bad news they tell ten people, who tell ten people, who tell ten people…see where I’m going here? On social media you can multiply that effect into the hundreds with a single post.

Do the right thing, the grown up thing, and just don’t. I know, it can be tough some days when folks are spouting off about shit for no more reason than to gain fifteen seconds of fame, but you do not need to lower yourself to their levels. You’re an author — make them a villain in your next book and murder them viciously. Oh, and don’t forget to give them props for the inspiration. Be deliciously evil like that.

Remember:  Sometime’s these are not your monkeys, which means this isn’t your circus either. So why would you butt in where you haven’t been invited?

XO Moira Callahan

Attractive Young Bare Muscular Man after Taking Shower

Makes me see red #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you back to another #SensualSunday post. Before I get into the main topic today I want to wish everyone a safe, and wonderful Halloween. It’s my most favorite holiday of all – ghosts, and ghouls, goblins, and all manner of spookiness. Really, it’s my kindred holiday because I’ve always been a little weird, always a prankster, and it speaks to me. So have a good one folks!

Now, onto today’s topic. Which I will warn now may well degrade into a rant, may well get some panties in a twist, and may well have some people becoming all indignant. Suck it up buttercups. If you do get your panties in a twist, or start spluttering and becoming indignant – then maybe this hits too close to home and you should really take a look at yourself. Because this is an ongoing issue that only seems to get worse the more technology takes over, and society slides deeper into the gutter. I’ve touched on this topic before, as I believe some other Naughty Quiller’s have as well, but it quite obviously needs to be mentioned yet again.

BULLYING

I was bullied in my teen years, junior high to be more specific. A group of three slightly older, definitely bigger girls thought I would be a great target because I was quiet, and usually had my nose stuck in a book. What I knew even before that first day of them harassing me was to give them nothing. I wouldn’t give them a response, I wouldn’t give them a look, I wouldn’t give them a hint of anything I was feeling, and most of all I wouldn’t give them the fucking time of day. They were not worth wasting a single second on.

That was then, and this is now. I’ve grown up and realize that their lives were either in turmoil, or something was going on that they felt they themselves had no self-worth. To make themselves feel better they tried to take me down a peg, and ruin who I was so they could puff themselves up. Do I occasionally think about those days they would follow me home taunting, teasing, and occasionally throwing items at my back while I purposefully ignored them or chatted about fun things with the friend at my side? Sure! Who wouldn’t Stop Bullying Poster Infographicwhen it was such a pivotal time in my life. I was … 13? … at the time give or take, that’s a tough time in any kids life. Between the hormones, the body changes, and everything else – we’re pretty damn fucked up for a while there. Not that it gets any easier in the years that immediately follow, but eventually it does and life goes on.

The times I most think back to those girls who likely had shitty lives, and felt no self-worth is when I see bullying on the Internet. Mainly on FB, but it’s everywhere – don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not. The really “good” bullies on the Net are the ones who do it on the sly, the down low, and with little tricks. These are the sick shits you have to watch out for, because they are trying to rip you to shreds anonymously. After all, how many of us can say we know the true identity of all our “friends” on social media? I can’t, I know the real names of maybe a 1/3, tops. But even then, social media and the Net provide them with a certain shroud that allows them the power to think they can say, do and get away with anything.

Some examples of bullying, especially among authors, on social media I’ve seen most recently are, but no where near limited to:

  • Post pulling – This is where a bully makes a comment on a thread and then when their target speaks up to commiserate, send condolences, etc they delete their comment leaving only the reply which now makes the other individual look completely off their rocker.
  • PM asides – This is where a bully, usually with a group they’ve conned into thinking they are the “victim”, black balls a person in the privacy of Private Messaging (PM’ing) all while making seemingly odd, off the wall comments in a thread conversation. The real trash talk is taking place behind the scenes while they drop seemingly benign comments that only the true victim (the bullied individual) can read into.
  • Passive-aggressive “help” – This is where a bully gives you “helpful” advise while still putting you down, or belittling you. To an outsider who doesn’t know the whole truth it reads as nothing more that what it says. To the bullied individual it’s yet another cut to their heart and soul. For example, if a group of people are getting together, chatting on social media about the when and where, and suddenly the bully in the group singles out someone with a “well-intentioned helpful tip”. This is where it reads like helpful advise, or even a way out while still keeping face, in reality it is a slight, a stab to the back, and it is filled with only hateful intent. They don’t want you there because they have plans to further ostracize you in the group and it’s easier if you don’t show.

These are only but a few examples of shit bullies pull on the Net. There are so many examples that it would take me literally days to write them all up. But there is a solution. If you or someone you know is being bullied on social media, report it and warn others. They may not listen, but eventually (next week or three years down the road) that “friend” they think is the bees knees will turn on them and make them the next victim. Do not stand idly Schild 106 - Teamworkby if you witness someone, even a stranger, being bullied. We need to stop this shit, in RL and on the Net, in it’s tracks. We need to be the ones to make the Internet and all it’s social media a safe place to be once more.

Bullying is particularly rampant in the author community. I’m not talking the one to two star zingers on GR, I’m talking about the authors who play the victim on the Net to lure in “friends” to “protect” them from the “big bad”. I’m talking about the authors who are pleasant to your face, and stabbing you in the back in their next breath. I’m talking about the authors who spread rumors, and vitriol in private, yet appear helpful in public. They are NOT the victim, they ARE the disease. And it’s a disease that will take ALL of us to eradicate. Bullies on the Net are essentially stalkers. It’s true. They stalk their targeted victim, get them to open up, save up the information they’ve gathered, and then they begin their campaign to ruin them. It always starts small with something like, “hey did you hear what so-and-so said, is it true?”, but it grows quickly and insidiously.

Do not stand idly by while someone is being repeatedly targeted. Be the better human being and speak out. Tell them it’s NOT okay for them to be speaking out of turn, because they may not know the true context in which someone said something. We can all agree that we have said something in the heat of the moment that we regret when we cool down. Do YOU want that to be the ONLY thing you are EVER remembered for?

I. Think. Not.

Be better, be stronger, be a role model for others. If you screw up, own it and apologize. While the other party may not accept at least you did your best, you were open and honest – that’s the best you can do. Let’s fight bullying in all it’s forms together with kindness, understanding, and unity. We are authors, a few thousand among the billions living on this world who are our reader base. There are more than enough out there for us all to have a piece of the pie. There is no reason why we can’t all play nice in the sandbox.

Now, before I let you go after this rather long and wild post – it kinda came in a mad gush of words – a couple last things to cover. You are amazing, you are strong, and you are beautiful just how you are. We were all put here to be unique, to be a piece to the bigger puzzle. Not everyone is out to screw with you, your life, or your career. But I hope that what I’ve shared will assist you in being aware, and help you to watch out for those out to harm rather than help. Let’s all stop trying to be someone we’re not, and be who we are meant to be instead.

XO Moira Callahan

Sexy naked young man on bed

Retrospect #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you all back to another #SensualSunday. This week I thought I’d do a little reflection on my career as an author. The myths and the reality. But I then realized that could be one hell of a long post, and honestly I’d get distracted part way through and who knows where we’d end up. So I thought next, what about simplifying it?

This month my publisher (Evernight Publishing) turns six years old. Now I’ve only been signed with them for just a smidge over two and a half years. But this light bulb had me thinking back to those first days, and to the last couple years of my journey. It hasn’t always been smooth and it hasn’t been without its trials, but it’s definitely been a ride. So here are my top 5 points of reflection.

Business cartoon showing two businesspeople looking down from a cliff. On the other cliff is a sign that reads, 'leap of faith'.#1 – Taking the leap
When I wrote my first book I had zero intention of submitting it. Truly. It was more of a purging to get it out of my head, and down on “paper” than anything else. But I let a friend read it who then convinced me I should send it in. Which then led to much debate about where I should send it in to.

I did my due diligence, did my research, and it finally came down to personal preference for the publishing house. The biggest reason I chose Evernight was the fact the authors there couldn’t say enough good things about the process, the people, and the general atmosphere. There are hordes of e-book publishers out there, not going to lie, and plenty look great at first and second glance. But too many didn’t hold up under the third glance of deeper scrutiny.

So, publisher chosen, manuscript polished to the best of my ability, and finger hovering over the Enter key about to send forth my first (and only at this point) “professional” work the nerves kicked into high gear. And, before I could talk myself out of it, I did it. Quickly proceeding to hyperventilate for the next twenty to thirty minutes wondering just what the hell I’d done.

#2 – Fumbling along the path
One thing everyone should know is, writing is not always easy. There are days where your fingers can’t keep up with the words flowing from your brain. Then there are days where you’re going Guantanamo Bay on your muse to get a syllable from the wench. There are sleepless nights, there are random bursts, and then there are marathon sessions that lead to even more sleepless nights – but at least these ones are productive.

There is no guidebook on what to do, what to say, or where to turn during your early days. One of the biggest reasons we seven got together to start Naughty Quills actually, to give the newbies out there some clue as to what they are getting into, what they could possibly expect to run across, and general advice for many situations that potentially may crop up. 3d Old man reading a mapWe all had to fumble around in the dark, and while we can give you some clues we definitely don’t have all the answers. Hell, most days we’re lucky if we have even a single answer, lol!

#3 – Trust your gut
This is a multi-purpose tool you should utilize. The saying “if it seems too good to be true” is exactly what this is all about. Going into any situation should you feel that something’s wrong, out of place, or generally just not what you expected do not even second guess yourself – step on back and review. While it may be a great option for someone else, it may not be best for you. And no matter what they say, or how they cajole you to get you to go along, if you’re not feeling it – GET THE HELL OUT!

For this is about you. You are the one writing the books. You are the one that knows what your goals are. You are the only one that can decide what is best for you. Believe in yourself, believe in your instincts, and do what is right for you always. You may lose “friends” over it, but if it keeps your career on the path you prefer, who the fuck cares? They aren’t the ones paying your bills, or sitting up late at night arguing with your muse about how a scene is playing out. They do NOT get a say in your career.

#4 – Ask questions
This applies to so many things, because the only way to better yourself and your knowledge is to ask the question. Everything from your research into your next story, to figuring out proper etiquette on social media, to discovering what your publisher (if that’s the path you picked) does and doesn’t like to get for books.

The best place to ask most questions is of the authors themselves. We’re a huge society who are more than willing, in 99% of cases, to assist newbie’s. After all, we were all in that same position at one time – wide eyed, terrified, and having no clue what was coming next. But you the newbie also needs to be aware that you have to come to the table Number 7 funny cartoon giraffeprepared. Be specific if at all possible, it saves everyone time that we all can be using to write.

#5 – Stand tall, chin up, shoulders back
You’re an author. This is a major achievement. While you may not have all the answers, or even an eighth of them, you’ve achieved something huge. There are thousands of people out in the world who can lay the same claim, but they aren’t you. You are unique, you are special, and only you know what it took to get you to this point. Celebrate it!

No one knows what tomorrow will bring so enjoy all the good, and amazing you’ve accomplished each day that you can. You are an author. That is no small feat that you’ve tackled. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the rush, and definitely enjoy all that comes from it. But stay humble. The world has enough diva’s in it. Remember where you came from, how you got here and be proud of everything, but don’t let it go to your head.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring after all. And the higher your horse, the harder that fall will be when it comes. And it always comes…

XO Moira Callahan

She's sexy and dangerous

Not always according to plan #SatisfactionSaturday @AuthorMoira

saturday

I’ve hijacked Kacey Hammell’s spot – and there’s nothing you can do about it!

Just kidding. Due to a real life situation Kacey had to take today off from her usual posting spot here on Naughty Quills, so in I step which means you get a double dose of Moira Callahan. I know, it’s mildly scary for me as well. Since this is an unplanned post I’m going to go off the cuff. Strap in, hang on tight, and remember to ensure you keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times. So I give unto you, my take on #SatisfactionSaturday…

Crazy Expectations vs. Reality

As an author our lives are a balancing act, not always the most stable one either. For many, new and established, we have day jobs to pay the bills, family, friends, meetings, appointments, various other commitments, and general real life turmoil that takes us away from our true passion – our writing. On top of all that is the need to maintain a public presence on social media.

MatchPoint NYC image

MatchPoint NYC image

My biggest piece of advice is to, from day one, be 100% totally honest with people. While they may not be able to recall everything you ever tell them, at least if you’ve put it out there then you’ve done your part. For example most people know I work a full-time job that pays my bills, keeps a roof over my head, and food on the table. My writing, while my passion and my much preferred career path, isn’t enough (yet) to make it my sole source of income. Though I do have a dream that one day, oh one day…

When things went to shit in a rusted out bucket at the day job I put that out there as well. No specifics, but I made sure my reader/fan base knew that my writing would suffer and the books would slow down for a while until everything was figured out. While I’m still figuring things out it is getting better, and my writing time is getting longer, and more frequent once again. Not where I truly want it – yet – but we’re getting there.

I figure that as long as I keep the conversation realistic, and fact filled then the readers/fans will understand that while they wish for a next book tomorrow, sadly it’s not happening no matter how I wish it would. Until they invent a way for us authors to write while we’re asleep, we all need to keep everything balanced so we don’t run ourselves, and thereby make our writing suffer, ragged. You are no good to your muse, to your art, to your career if you are not first and foremost taking care of yourself. Recharge those batteries however works for you. Your writing, and your readers will thank you. So too will your editor but really, I like the idea of occasionally driving them a little crazy.

There you have it. Thank you for reading today’s unplanned post. Now I’m off to do my usual posting for tomorrow. Have a great Saturday, a fabulous weekend, and to all my Canadian friends, readers, family, and fans – Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

XO Moira Callahan

And because Kacey suggested some hot pix’s… I give you some hot pix!
All images below are the sole property of Michael Stokes Photography.

 

The faceless era #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Welcome back to another #SensualSunday. Today’s post is based on something I saw in my feed on FB. I’m sure a couple other’s have seen it as well, especially if you’re an author and have friends or travel in our circle of the Romance world. The post in question isn’t from anyone I know, anyone I’ve read, and yet it struck a chord. Let’s get going…

The below word definitions (taken from Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary) are strictly the part(s) related/pertinent to the following post…

internet bullyingBULLY:  a blustering browbeating person; especially:  one habitually cruel to others who are weaker
BROWBEAT:  to use threats or angry speech to make (someone) do or accept something
THREAT:  an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage; someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.

In our lives all people will either be the bully, or be the bullied. Not saying any/everyone is a bully in the classic sense, but then again there are different levels of bullying. But today’s post is specifically garnered to what happens on the Net, and Social Media.

Bullying isn’t just in schools any longer, it’s now on the World Wide Web. Because there is anonymity on the Internet, and bully’s prefer to remain faceless, “nameless”, assholes picking at you day in and day out. Now, I said “nameless” because while they might have a name they go by on social media, it doesn’t mean it is their legal/birth name. Authors are not the only ones who have pseudonyms after all. Nothing gives a bully more power than to be able to say what they want without any repercussions*.

While bullying is still highly considered to be a crime of the school yard, we all know that it hasn’t stayed there. Not with the Net as their new playground, and those bully’s from the school yards are now hidden bully’s on social media. Let’s start with the basics:

CYBERBULLYING (full list available on prevnet.ca):

  • Sending mean and sometimes threatening emails or text messages.
  • Spreading gossip, secrets or rumours about another person that will damage that person’s reputation.
  • Engaging someone in instant messaging, tricking them into revealing personal information and then forwarding that information to others.
  • Using someone else’s password in order to change their profile to reflect sexual, racist and other content that may offend others.
  • Posting false or hurtful messages on online bulletin boards or in chat rooms.
  • Deliberately excluding others from instant messaging and email contact lists.

Now, don’t let this bring you down or discourage you. There are ways to protect yourself, your brand, and your name. Because, as authors, we are some easy targets (not the only targets, but we’re here to help authors specifically). If you’ve ever heard/had someone post things like:  “Oh, you write romance. Well that is just so cute!”, “You wrote a book? And someone actually published it?”, “Romance, really? Why not write a real book?” you know that sinking feeling anyone bullied has ever felt. Believe me, it does get easier but you need to find your own inner strength, grab hold, and figure out what will work best for you.

the-better-part-of-valour-is-discretion-quote-1The author I referred to at the beginning had taken some time to figure out what would work best in her life. Her decision was to step back and be an author, to write the books she had to share, and worry only about that. An administrator was given the task of handling her online presence, and dealing with the bullying she’d previously had to take care of herself. An impartial party (I’m guessing) who has no investment in the author’s works who can look at everything objectively, pass along information as needed, and boot the aggressors from the page to keep it a welcoming, happy place where the fans can gather to talk about the authors works.

This is definitely one option, especially if you are the sort to become easily distracted by the negative Nelly’s out there. For myself I haven’t had to deal with many, beyond a couple reviews I rolled my eyes at and ignored, and the people in general who look down their noses on Romance as a “real” genre. But I’m the sort who will read what’s been written, delete it, and ban the negativity from my life. For the more in-person folks I try to educate them, give them the numbers, and if that doesn’t help then offer them a book to read. “Oh you haven’t read anything in Old books, bouquet of field daisies on a wooden background in vithe Romance genre, yet you’re going to put it down?” That one particularly irks me. If you aren’t going to research the subject in an effort to educate yourself then all you’re really doing is blowing hot, useless air. Stop polluting my space please.

Now, before I start onto a full blown rant, here’s what it all comes down to. You, yes you!, need to decide what will work, and be best for you. No one else, just you. Just remember, and I hate having to reiterate this repeatedly but obviously it needs to be said, everything posted on the Net stays on the Net. The Internet never, EVER forgets anything. And whatever you do, do not engage a bully. Don’t defend yourself, don’t argue with them (they’ve had years at their level of stupidity and therefore are a pro), and don’t get into a debate. If you wish to say your piece, do so. But remember that it’s always best to wash your hands from any negativity in your life as your creative side will be the first to suffer. Which, since that’s what your job requires as an author, is it really worth it?

No, no it’s not. Here are my final words of advice on this particular topic today. Report, delete, and ban. These three actions are your friends. For email there are filters that shuffle anything heinous directly to where it belongs, the garbage. So, as in all parts of your life be aware, watch for the signs, and be ready to take out the trash.

XO Moira Callahan

* Cyberbullying is a crime/illegal. It is a punishable** if reported. Most online bully’s have no idea that they too can be tracked down, even while using a false name, and information.

** Laws will vary depending on state, province, county and country. If you are a victim of cyberbullying contact your local authorities and find out your options in preventing someone else from being a victim of this same individual.