Monthly Archives: October 2014

Just because it’s Halloween, doesn’t mean you can be a troll

I’ve seen an extraordinary number of stories, reviews, articles, Facebook posts, and even a few talks with friends recently that all center around one thing. I’m not talking about constructive criticism or critical evaluation. I mean people being nasty, negative, and non-constructively critical, i.e., TROLLS.  And more importantly, people responding to them.

As I read this article ‘Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic I felt a mix of what might pass as emotions. Its easy to see all of the ownership that goes into any creative effort. In this case, an author producing her first work. And is often the case, she got a bad review. Unfortunately, she became obsessed with it. Despite warnings about engaging, she did.

I get it. When someone likes and appreciate your work, you want to thank them. Maybe even engage with them as positive reinforcement and encouragement. And by human nature, when someone is negative, you want to find out why, and possibly even try to change their mind. In this case, her pursuit revealed a lot of disturbing potentials, including revealing people using something other than their own identity. Well, it’s the internet. I could as easily by a hyper intelligent trained alien marmoset. My wife will just tell you I’m a smart ass. Some days, it’s just an ass, but I digress. And only possibly from another planet.

But when I read this, here is what I saw more of. A great draining waste of time, energy and resources that could have been spent improving her skills, creating more work, or even simply enjoying life. I wondered what this personal trial meant for her, her career, and life.

Another one, this time a restaurant review where someone threw a tantrum because the establishment stuck to their business practices, was short, and to the point. The response was well crafted, and undoubtedly drawing a lot of good attention, but there will always be someone who will take the side of the customer. But at least it was a quick and direct response. The review system is a system that can be gamed.

So why am I going off on this? Some other personal family and friends have been victims of various levels of trolldom. So here is my message for anyone stressing over it. And I’m trying to keep this fairly clean. Take feedback for what it’s worth. Haters can F*** Off.

When I pushed out my first self pub story, it had been through numerous self reviews and an external editor. Since then, its had a couple more external edits and reviews. And every time I flip back to it for something, I find something else. The good news with ebooks, I fix em when I find em. And if you have refresh turned on for kindle, you’ll get the updates. The first version version let a couple of things slip through that would have sent my English teacher mother into apoplexy. But, its getting cleaner.  And for the most part, reviews have been fair. And I’m happy that most of my readers have forgiven a few sins in favor of enjoying the story.

I’ve gotten a few messages baiting contention. I deal with enough of that in the rest of my working life. I ignored them. On the other side, I’ve gotten more encouraging messages, and even questions about where my work is going. Those I’ll respond to.

I write because I enjoy it. It’s cathartic. I’ve written for most of my life, mostly to get stuff out of my head, and it lets me work through other events in my personal and professional life. I write for me. The fact that others are enjoying it is a bonus. And the idea that there are some haters out there? I have no expectation that everyone will love, or even like my work. No creative person should. Creativity is a drive to produce something of yourself. Most creative people are unwilling or unable to expose that part of themselves to the world at large. It is the few of that crowd that are willing to risk or tolerate the criticism that inevitably comes with opening yourself to the public, whether on an individual basis or in the greater electronic world.

I wrote this to give a little encouragement for everyone who is trying to bring life to their creative pursuits, whether personally, or because you are trying to make it part of your creative life. Take positive and negative commentary for what it is. Feedback. Use it to improve your skills, but don’t lose who you are, or your style. Be true to yourself.

And a message to any of you out there whose only creative outlet is being destructive to others. Make your criticism’s constructive. If you are going to take the time and effort to be critical of the work of others, do it with the nature of informing the creator, and their consumers. People are smart enough to recognize haters. And trolls.

And in the worst case, writers can kill you off in really embarrassing, creative ways. Or even worse, keep you alive.

An addendum from one of my favorites, Harlan Ellison.

Spirits of the Season is out!

Hail Eris!

The Longbow Initiative Halloween short story is on Amazon!

FBI Agent Jericho Spears long term surveillance operation is disrupted by a visiting agent looking for the location of an exclusive Halloween party. When one of the smugglers under investigation drops dead in the middle of the street right after a drop of suspect merchandise, Spears is pulled into a world he can’t believe exists.
Or that he is being invited to the Halloween party for the gods.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OP1XKIY

New stuff! New Projects!

Hello all,

I’ve had a busy month, and realized how long it had been since I got out here with an update. Several new projects are in flight, and should be ready to announce them shortly.

I have a new short story from the Longbow Initiative, and it’s a #Halloween story! I’m shooting to have it up on Amazon by the 18th, assuming #Eris stops giving me little challenges.Featured image

I had a great event at the Charleston Scottish Highland Games in September, signed a few books, and had some heavy objects thrown!

I’ve also gotten some more new artwork coming, the first of which is the Longbow Initiative emblem which will be rolled out in Spirits of the Season, and also will be in the next newsletter. It’s coming, really.

For those out there who are also of a creative bent, I’m working on a book project with a working title of The Business of Creativity. I have a lot of friends and contacts who endeavor in all sorts of creative enterprises, from hobbyists to people who pursue their creative arts for a living.

As of late, several of these friends seem to be going through a couple of similar challenges, and they all revolve around the business side of their creative arts, including two artists and an author. I’ve had this project bubbling for years, and it seems like the time to tackle it, among everything else I’ve got working. But a couple of primers.

#1 – The starving artist – making a living from your art is a lot of hard work, and usually is much harder than the creative process. It’s also OK to make a living from your art. I’ve had a few people tell me over the years that if you make too much from your art, you’re selling out, and you lose that creative spirit.

Well, you’re right. It’s much better for others to profit from your work and creative efforts while you struggle to get the materials for your art, invest the time, bring it to market, and make just enough profit for a case of Ramen Noodles. Get over it. If you can make a good living from your art, then the universe is rewarding you for your efforts! And if it’s just a side hobby and it pays your bar tab, that’s great too! It’s okay to profit from creativity!

#2 – Now that you’re over #1, and the Ramen Noodles aren’t cutting it, how do you turn an art into a business? Unless you are very lucky, it’s about time, patience, and discipline. Hugh Howey graciously held a lunch meet and greet at Dragon Con this year. I had read Wool when it was just starting to pick up speed, and I think this interview is a great resource. He credits luck and timing for being ‘discovered,’ and then navigating the trials of success.

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-hugh-howey-turned-his-self-published-story-wool-into-a-success-a-book-deal

#3 – And I’ll be writing more about this, but your art is about you. Marketing people would call it ‘building your brand.’ No matter your art, you need to find the people who connect with you and your work. And a big part of that is that people want to know and understand you. Don’t be needy. Don’t be whiny. But be you.

As I start outlining the book, I’ll post more of it here, and if you think you have a story you want to share, let me know!

PS – to all of the rest of you who aren’t using some talent to be creative – quit watching reality TV and give whatever it is you always really wanted to do a try.