Anti-Feminist Characters?

I have received some pretty strange feedback since I made my novels public.

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Obligatory photo to be more appealing.

Everything from; “This was clearly written by a woman, but a woman with a good imagination.” Which, admittedly, cracked me up… to: “This novel is harmful TO women.”

Today I’d like to briefly address the latter comment.

First, some quick background information. I don’t like to identify as a feminist because I find third-wave feminism online to be very toxic and distressing. In third-wave feminism online I see a lot of hate, anger and bitterness and I don’t necessarily want to associate with that. Offline I am more likely to identify as feminist because I have a great deal of respect and love for first-wave feminism but third-wave feminism online is something I have tried to steer clear from.

Anytime I have spoken up online about my beliefs on certain subjects I have had the extreme left level me with insults.

So with that information in tact, just know that when I wrote my novel it was not with any desire to make a political statement. I didn’t want to write a feminist character or share a feminist message but in the same way I had no desire of sharing the opposite. My only goal in writing was to tell a fun story with characters people could hopefully relate to.

My main character, Kai, is a mixture of the women I know and love most in my life. People often mistakenly think I based her on myself but I most certainly did not. She also suffers from anxiety and a bit of PTSD. I’ve been told I demonstrated that VERY poorly but if I did, oh well. Kai doesn’t know what she has, she can only share her experiences in her own unique way.

Kai is also a spaceship ‘captain’. If you’ve read the novel, you know that title doesn’t really mean all that much.

And this is where the ‘your character hurts women’ comment came from. Kai is in a position of power (captain) and she’s not perfect, she’s not even very good at being ‘captain’ because she’s reckless and at times foolish, and this is not okay in the eyes of some third-wave feminists online (apparently).

It’s been over a year since I received that little inbox note and it still bothers me. Why do women have to be portrayed as super strong, incapable of error, perfect creatures in media? Is this the only ‘strong female’ that third-wave feminists will accept?

I think of Kai as strong and I see her as strong. She has all the same insecurities, doubts and even desires as any women I know, but she pushes through those things and lives her life. She doesn’t back down in the face of her anxiety, she doesn’t let her mistakes stop her from moving forward and she’ll go fist to fist with anyone who pisses her off. If she were a male character, she’d basically be Captain Kirk (with the same foolish away missions), so how is she a disgrace to women?

I look around at popular media right now and I see depictions of women I can’t identify with and I think it’s because content creators feel obliged to cow-tow to feminists like the one who inboxed me complaining that my novel ‘hurt women’ because my female lead was not powerful or smart enough.

I won’t ever cow-tow. I won’t ever politicize. I just want to tell stories with characters who feel real to me and others. I want broken, damaged characters who make horrible decisions and yet still manage to come out on top. I want characters who are good people but not perfect people.

I’m sorry if you feel my novel ‘hurts women’. I don’t think I’ll ever be famous enough for that to ever actually come true but even if some miracle happened and my words reached many ears, I don’t think anyone would read a fictional novel and think ‘women shouldn’t be captains because this fictional woman was bad at it’.

If my novel IS anti-feminist… so be it. I won’t change it to feed into some political agenda. It’s just a story, with characters I’m rather fond of despite their faults. And yes, it was a story that was clearly written by a woman but I had a hell of a lot of fun writing it and can’t wait to write more.

Peace!

The Importance of Leaving Reviews

When you imagine an author begging for reviews, you probably think of a self-published author. Generally you don’t see traditionally published authors asking for reviews, and this is because they have a team that does the asking for them and it all happens ‘behind the scenes’, where you, as a consumer, are left clueless.

In the self-publishing field we have to do all our own marketing.

Reviews are literally the lifeblood of our marketing. Word-of-mouth is everything in any industry, but as a self-published author reviews are how we prove ourselves. Our work is made or broken on the back of impartial reviews. But why are reviews such a big deal?

Make one customer happy and they’re happy, make one customer angry and they’ll tell everyone they know.

Reviews Get Us Noticed

On sites like Amazon, reviews determine how visible you are on the site. The more reviews you have, the more ‘items like this’ and etc. lists you’ll show up in. From a purely marketing standpoint, reviews are necessary.

Reviews Confirm Our Work

People have this idea that traditional novels are somehow superior because they’ve had to go through the process of being accepted by a traditional publishing team but let’s be honest, some traditionally published books aren’t good. Traditional novels aren’t guaranteed to be good, or even nicely packaged (I’ve seen some terrible traditionally published covers), but people think they are. Reviews are validation, they are our way of showing the wary reader that our work is worth their time.

“If you liked a novel the best way you can say thank you to the author is to drop them a rating and review”

Reviews Can Help

They can show us where we’ve taken a wrong step. Many self-published authors take this very seriously and go through arduous editing and proofing processes but others are perhaps a bit naive and think they can write and publish without any extensive editing process. Reviews are especially important to show us when we’ve skipped a step or missed something, but also to warn other readers what to expect.

Reviews are really our biggest and most important form of marketing. If you liked a novel the best way you can say thank you to the author is to drop them a rating and review on your chosen platform for such things.

Now, on a side note;

Be Thoughtful In Your Feedback

Back in the day, before I published my first novel, I read and reviewed a number of self-published novels. I was in a group specifically for self-published authors and I wanted to try and help them out as a reader.

I was open, honest, and sometimes brutal in my reviews. If a work was poorly edited (I don’t mean missing commas, I mean switching from first person to third in the same paragraph, breaking the fourth wall inadvertently and other egregious errors), if the story had glaring plot holes or errors, I would point these out.

I regret making these reviews public. They were fairly … extensive. More like a peer critique than a review in all honesty. I can’t imagine how rough it was to receive these in a public forum. At the time I felt it was my responsibility to let other readers know how poorly the novel had been prepared and honestly it was annoying to me that I had spent money on novels that were so horribly put together but I still feel I should have messaged the author privately and given them a chance to correct things behind the scenes.

Shortly after I released my first novel I received a number of private messages from well meaning people who had picked apart every error in my novel and wanted to let me know. Thankfully the errors they were finding were things like a missed comma here or a perceived missed comma there. I even had someone point out a ‘plot hole’ before finishing the story, a plot hole that wasn’t a hole because it gets resolved in the rest of the story. But they meant well and I appreciate that they took the time to try and help. I even implemented some of the edits they suggested.

I am forever grateful that they dropped this feedback in my pms instead of as a review.

Live and learn. Now that I’ve seen both sides I wouldn’t leave reviews like I used to.

Phew! This has been one mouthful of a post.

To summarize:

Please leave reviews. Even for traditionally published novels. It is the quickest and simplest way you can say thank you.

How do I write when I’m not inspired/motivated to?

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I frequent a variety of writing groups in my quest to improve and better understand the writing community. The most common question I see popping up from time to time is: How do I write when I don’t feel inspired/motivated?

The answer isn’t as simple as people might think.

As humans, our brains are each unique. What works best for one person, may not work for another, and that’s okay. Too often when I’m reading advice columns I see people giving concrete advice, as if each writer is a carbon copy of another and there can be no variation but that’s disingenuous at best and demotivating at worst for those writers who may be outside the mold.

So, as I answer the question, please know that this is what works for me. Give it a try, if it doesn’t work for you, you might need to find another way.

  1. Make writing a habit. Do it EVERY day. No matter what. Sometimes this will mean staring at an empty screen for thirty minutes and only writing ten words but it WILL get easier. Eventually your brain will learn.
  2. Try to always write in the same place. For me this helps because this space has become my ‘writing’ space and my brain associates it with writing. As time went on, it became easier and easier to write in that space, even when I wasn’t feeling like it.
  3. Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration, to me, isn’t a real thing. Inspiration can sometimes trigger the first idea that starts a project but once you’re writing a story, inspiration wanes. During the nitty gritty aspect of writing a story, there will be ‘boring’ spots, challenging spots, bits that make you groan because you’d rather be writing about explosions and excitement but those ‘quiet’ bits are equally important to a story and it’s OK to be bored by them. But you can’t let that feeling stop you from working. Inspiration has its place but it shouldn’t make or break your writing.
  4. Don’t wait for passive motivation. YOU can motivate YOURSELF. Motivation isn’t something that just happens, it’s something you have to create. Make the decision to write. Make the choice to write often.

If the above really doesn’t work for you, then maybe you’ll need another method but I know it worked for me, so give it a try.

Good luck!

Peace.

A Year Later – A look at a self-published life

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One year ago I released my first novel, TYR. I made the decision to self-publish. Ideally I would have loved to have a publisher but also the idea of self publishing really appealed to me. I enjoyed the challenge, the adventure of it.

So far, it has been worth it.

I haven’t moved as many copies as a novel by a traditional publisher might have moved, but I learned how to promote myself, I managed to drag myself out of my shy little bubble and I’ve learned what a wonderful community I live in.

Offline the support has been fantastic. The local newspaper conducted an interview, the local radio station has asked for an interview, local libraries have taken the book, local stores have stocked it on their shelves, and everyone has been so very kind.

Online, too, I found a community of writers, authors and readers who were eager to offer advice, help and support. For the first month after the release of my first book I would receive almost daily messages from helpful friends or readers who wanted to suggest editorial changes (bless them). I didn’t mind, it was clear they were just trying to help.

Going forward, I would like to pursue a publisher as I’ve now experienced self-publishing and I would very much like to see what traditional publishing is like. If possible I’d love to be able to pursue both paths at the same time as I find a great deal of enjoyment in self publishing.

At the end of this summer I hope to release my first audiobook. This will be the next big step in my self publishing adventure and I very much look forward to it.

If I could give any advice to any author hoping to self publish it’s as follows:

  1. Surround yourself with people who will be honest. You NEED to know if certain aspects of the story don’t work, or if your editing is flawed.
  2. Get a good editor. Even if it means saving money before you can publish the book. Don’t ruin your writing reputation with a poorly edited book. Admittedly my novel has struggled with some editorial errors but too many of those and readers will get frustrated.
  3. Get off your couch. Marketing takes place outside your home. Talk to friends, talk to strangers, go out there and market yourself.
  4. Don’t be afraid to take chances and try things. Was it scary for me to approach stores to see if they’d carry my book? Absolutely, I did it anyway. And having my book on a store shelf gave it some added credibility which in turn helped me find some more readers.
  5. Your first book is really about finding an audience so don’t hesitate to give it away for free in promotions and the like.

One year ago I decided to chase my dream. And I’m so glad I did.

Don’t forget to chase yours!!!

Peace.