How I price my ebooks

I’ve recently done some housekeeping on my back catalogue; changing covers to make them more uniform, simplifying the pricing system and so on. Whereas before I used to have four price points depending on book length, I’ve minimised the ‘rules’ and decided books below 50k words (novella) will be $2:99 and books above 50k words (novel) will be $3:99.

As before, because the U.S. has the biggest ebook market, I set the prices in American dollars and let the exchange rate dictate the prices in other currencies.

And of course, if the word count is borderline, I’ll err on the side of the lower price point. If you’re looking for a book that’s doubleplusgood value for money, you could try Deep Screw, 49,449 words long and therefore only $2:99.

Posted in ebooks, word counts | Leave a comment

Authors getting butthurt. Again.

Okay, publishing world, it seems we need to have a little chat. You’re cyclical, I get that. Every so often the same subject rears its ugly head on Twitter or Facebook, it all kicks off and some writers’ delicate fee-fees get hurted.

But here we are again with the ‘low ratings and reviews are just mean’ bullshit.

It’s even getting to the point where a publisher has tweeted that negative reviews come from ‘haters’. No, I am not kidding.

Over the past few days, several tweets have crossed my timeline from various writers, all saying much the same thing. “I just got my first one-star review, not that it bothers me, ha ha, they’re just a hater or a troll or a jealous loser!”

There then follows in the thread, a flurry of supportive replies from the OP’s  (Original Poster’s) friends, reassuring them that everyone gets low ratings or negative reviews sometimes (true) and that they obviously don’t appreciate talent (bullshit).

This afternoon I saw one thread which began with an author saying after receiving her first three-star review (lucky her!) she’d now received her first one-star review, not that she cared, oh no!

Well, the fact she noticed it, tweeted about it and rallied her pals, kinda suggests she did.

Does all of this seem familiar? No wonder.

I’ve blogged about this a couple of times before, and my post How not to handle a negative review describes a situation so similar to what’s just been barfed all over Twitter that you’ll probably think I plagiarised myself with this blog post. But nope. The same thing keeps happening, over and over again. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

From the aforementioned blog post:

If a writer has only ever self-published, there’s a distinct possibility their first contact with someone pointing out plot holes, mistakes and typos or just plain old not liking their work will be not with an editor rejecting their manuscript, but with a reader who has spent money on their book, and time reading it.

There’s also my blog post More ‘negative reviews’ fuckery on Twitter which is more to do with authors complaining about people rating their books without having read them in their entirety. Well, if you can’t hold a reader’s attention, that in itself is a valid review.

Anyway, the thread on Twitter today descended into a bunch of writers saying the person who had left the review was probably a jealous competitor, or someone who didn’t fully appreciate the effort the author had put into her work.

Let’s just tackle both of those accusations in order.

First  of all, is someone who gives your book one star a jealous competitor?

No.

Okay, that’s maybe not the extensive, detailed answer you were hoping for.

But have you any idea how insulting it is, to suggest the only reason for someone to lowball your book is because they’re in the same business, and they want to knock out the competition? If that’s the first place your mind goes, that says an awful lot more about you than it does about the book being discussed. Is it realistic to think this author on Twitter is so super-talented that the only way to tank her sales (and she’s someone I’d never even heard of a few hours ago) is to one-star her book on Goodreads?

Could it be…the reader just didn’t like her book?

Okay, then. Maybe the reviewer wasn’t a competitor trying to hobble other, better writers. Maybe they were just someone who didn’t appreciate the effort the OP had put into her work.

Even if that was the case…so what?

Too many writers believe they should be rewarded for effort, rather than paid for the end product.

What a writer imagines in their head is often far different to what ends up on the page. The scenery or world or hell, even universe inside their head is more detailed. Trust me, as a writer, I know.

So what they know about their world, their characters, their backstory, influences what they think of their own book. They know so much about their story world that they forget…the reader does not. They know all the useless details about their protagonist that didn’t make it onto paper. Or perhaps they think they wrote about said details in the book but they did so with less skill than is required, so the impression their pages give to the reader is far, far different to what’s going on in the author’s brain.

The story has to go from author’s brain to keyboard to book format and from there, into the reader’s mind. That’s a lot of places for your untrained authorial intent to get lost in translation.

What ends up in the reader’s mind is what they use to judge your book. Not how much effort you put in. Who the hell cares how much sleep you lost? That you were rushing to get the book finished for your ideal release date? That it was something you’d been working on for years? (And if so, dude, you really need to work on your productivity.)

You, as a writer, are not rewarded (or paid) according to how much work you put in. You’re paid according to the end product. As in, royalties. As long as the reader acquired your book by legal means and you get paid your share of the royalties, that’s all you need to know. Reviews are not for authors. They’re for other readers.

And if  readers don’t like a particular book, they have the right to express such an opinion.

One more thing before I hit publish on this blog post. (It’s nearly 1,000 words as it is and I need to go wash my hair.) The Twitter thread that inspired this rant ended up with the OP’s writer pals saying everyone should head on over to Goodreads to 5-star the book, to, and I quote, “balance things out”.

So, readers? Beware of any book that has a lowball rating, then gets 5-star bombed. Because apparently there are writers out there so sensitive to criticism that they need all their pals to wank their egos and basically lie on social media, filling Goodreads up with 5-star ratings to salve their bruised fee-fees.

It’s funny how no-one ever seems to bitch about those undeserved 5- star reviews, eh?

Posted in authors behaving badly, book reviews, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is theme?

Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.

I’ve just had a mini-rant about this on Twitter and decided to bring it over to WordPress as it’s writing-related, after all.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of (particularly young, starting-out) writers defining theme incorrectly. I’m not a fan of prescriptive advice so who am I to say other writers are getting it wrong? Well, this isn’t about writing methods or productivity hacks. This is about the very definition of a word, something that all writers should be keen to nail down. Right?

It happens a lot on YouTube. “So the theme of my book is X happens, then Y, and as a consequence, Z…” That’s not theme. That’s a synopsis, or a bland rundown of events.

I’ve also seen in the comments, “The theme of my novel is redemption.” No it isn’t. That’s an abstract noun. It’s what you want to write about.

What about oops, there’s only one bed or friends-to-lovers or office romance or the body in the library or marriage of convenience or finding out a character’s secret? Nope. Those are tropes.

Theme is the thing you’re saying about the world you created.

It can usually be summed up in three words, sometimes more.

  • Love conquers all
  • Crime doesn’t pay
  • Cheats never prosper

All of the above are themes, because they’re the one consistently true thing that ties their individual books together.

Theme is the ultimate truth of your universe.

What is true for all of your characters, in all situations? They don’t have to consciously realise it — hell, some of the best books out there keep their themes beyond the ken of the protagonists — but their lives should be ruled by the book’s ultimate truth, its theme.

You can’t go home again, love is a lie, you become what you hate, we always hurt the ones we love…all of those are themes. (I did say you could occasionally go over the three-word mark, remember. It’s a guideline, not a rule!)

Lastly, I’d advise against trying to shoehorn your theme into the first draft otherwise you might come off as preachy.


Often we don’t know what we’re saying until after we’ve said it, or we think we’re saying one thing, but it turns out we’re actually saying something else entirely. Even if you rigorously outline your novel before you write a single word of it, theme is something you discover in the writing. Outlining tells you what happens; theme is the why it does.

How many times have I finished a manuscript, believing I was saying “Love conquers all,” when in actual fact I was saying, “Jealousy makes fools of us all?” How many times did I think I was outlining something with the theme  “Friends are the family we choose,” but during edits, see the theme was actually, “We can’t suppress the past forever?”

Reading over a first draft could very well give you chills as you realise, “Ah, so that’s why writing X, Y or Z felt right. It fit with the theme I hadn’t yet articulated.” Theme is much, much easier to ‘play up’ on the rewrites or edits because once you know what it is, you can emphasise the scenes that underline the theme, and do away with the ones that didn’t fit for some reason — because now you know the reason.

In conclusion:  theme is the ultimate truth of the universe you created. It’s the one, true thing that explains why everything that happens, happens.

Oh, and regarding the earworm from the first line of this blog post? You’re welcome. 😀

Posted in theme, writing, YouTube | Leave a comment

Tea stains

Well. This has certainly been an interesting week. Not even that long; three days.

The response to my last blog post wasn’t what I expected. Truly, I expected it to ruffle a few feathers then sink without trace, rather like my writing career.

But…not so. The post exploded. In the past 72 hours, my blog’s had well over 4k hits. Yep. You read that right. Four thousand. that’s well over double what I’ve ever had in my best month blogging, since the beginning of time.

I’ve received a shit-ton of DMs on Twitter, and here’s the surprising thing — not one has been negative. Not one has been disbelieving. Not one has been a defence of the person I accused. I’ve had thank-yous for speaking up from complete strangers, I’ve had “Good for you!” and I’ve had celebratory comments from people who have been waiting for someone to stick their head above the parapet and say “So this bitch…”

I can’t tell others’ stories for them, but I hope they choose to come forward. One or two are already speaking more openly about their experiences, similar to mine, on social media. Not only that, but I see from my blog stats that my ‘cup of tea’ link is being passed around Facebook and Goodreads too. Oh, and a couple of online fora. I can’t always read such threads as they’re password-protected, but people are talking. (Perhaps there are disbelieving comments there and I’m just not seeing them.)

It would seem my friend Petra was correct when she said, “If a person’s a bitch to you, you can bet they’ve been a bitch to other people, too.” I knew she’d be right (Petra’s always right) but I grossly underestimated the extent of the damage one person has done to so many others’ confidence and creativity. The sheer number we’re talking about here is amazing. I mean, how do you go through your entire writing career with not one person willing to defend you against the story I related here back on Tuesday evening? How do you offend, hurt and disappoint so many people before you even turn 40?

Not only that, but I’m reconnecting with people from whom I was separated by, er…circumstances…many years ago. I’ve learned the truth of this quote from my previous blog post:

And it’s easier to snow someone if you cut them off from the person who’s telling the truth. I’ve had confirmation from multiple sources that Erika “strongly advises” people to cut me dead.

Oh how accurate that turned out to be.

Now, when it comes to my writing, as I said in that post, I’m going to finish Read Me and my menage novella, purely to avoid leaving works unfinished. I’m still, as usual, jotting down story ideas in a small notebook but that’s a lifelong habit. Do I intend to put those ideas into novella or novel form? Let’s just say whereas on Tuesday it was 75% likely I’d quit for good, now it’s…50/50.

Telling my truth and being congratulated (yes, really!) for doing so, having so many people tell me “I had a similar experience,” or “I knew who you were talking about all along,” or “All right, so lemme tell you this about her,” has been a weight lifted off my shoulders. I wouldn’t exactly say I had a cloud hanging over me for years, but it’s definitely been a burden of sorts to have this truth within me, unheard. And now I feel lighter, freer, could that mean it’s easier for me to be creative?

All I can say is…possibly.

I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. When I write, I’m very much a feast or famine writer, which is why the intensity of pomodoros works so well for me. 3-4k words in a day is standard for me when I’m on a writing kick these days. That’s not the kind of pressure I’m referring to. That’s intensity as I said, and it works well for me. But, what I mean by pressure is unrealistic deadlines such as “I’m going to write a novella in a month and, in fact, every month and if I don’t, I’ll hate myself!” Hell, if my productivity does pick up, that’s great, but only if my levels of enjoyment pick up, too.

When I talk about pressure, perhaps I should say obligation. I’m not going to feel an obligation to produce a novella or a novel a month, on a regular basis. Basically, I want writing to feel like play. For now, at least.

I can schedule various projects if I want, because schedules can change. Illness happens, some life events are unavoidable, emergencies occur. Let’s just say that beyond Read Me and the menage novella, my writing plans will be written in pencil, not ink.

~*~

While I’m not looking to become a crusader, if there’s anyone out there who wants to unburden themselves to me, I’m easy to find on Twitter or by email. You’ll find a sympathetic, discreet ear from me.

And if anyone wants to sign up to my (free!) newsletter for writing-related stuff, you can do so here. I also have a Patreon page and a tips jar over on Ko-Fi for the proper care and caffeination of your favourite tea-spiller, truth-teller and fuck-intolerant refusenik.

Posted in authors behaving badly, writing | 13 Comments

A cup of tea before you go?

This is going to be a long blog post. 3,301 words, according to WordPress. Please bear with me; it’s detailed, and it’s been building up inside me for literally years. But finally, I’ve had enough. I’ve officially run out of fucks. I just ask that you read it, and any given links, straight through.

I’ve spoken before about how discouraged I’ve been over the years as regards my writing. Even with a backlist of 12 self-published books, I’m lucky if I sell 5 or 6 novels in a month, across all vendors and marketplaces. My budget for marketing and promo is zero, so I’m just relying on blogging, Twitter, a wing and a fuckin’ prayer, really.

Last night I mentioned on Twitter that I’d gone thirty days on Amazon without selling a single book. An entire month. Shortly thereafter, my Amazon dashboard showed two sales, which was good, but also bad. Good because I’m grateful for people trying to keep my spirits up, bad because…it’s not working. I feel like I’m fighting to gain any traction at all in the publishing world and when I see the amount of scammers and hypocrites who do meet with some kinda success, it grates. I’ve got to admit that.

I had people suggest printing out flyers or business cards, and while they meant well, I don’t think they quite understand what my budget is zero truly means. It means every tiny penny I earn from writing goes towards groceries or utility bills. I simply cannot afford to pay for Amazon ads, and as for Facebook — I’m not on that site and nor will I ever be, due to their ‘legal names only’ policy. I use a pseudonym for a reason. And of course, YouTube does not suit those writers who wish to remain separate from their pen names.

I started writing romance at the tail end of 2008 and was first published in 2010. So that’s nine years I’ve had to build up a backlist, a following, some kind of success, right?

Well, it ain’t happening. Which makes me wonder how many times I have to keep trying, how many books I have to write before I finally accept that for whatever reason, no-one wants to buy what I’m selling. When I still had the belief, or the hope at least, that I could make a few quid and build up a readership, I’d say “Just one more try,” but now? I’m tired. I’m just…tired.

The romance-writing world is rife with shady behaviour. I have heard so many stories of things that go on behind the scenes your ears would bleed if you heard them all. I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying “Wah wah, poor me, the scammers are winning; I’m taking my ball and going home.” No, it’s more like, the discouragement is getting to me. It builds up, the running out of ideas of what to try next to salvage my creativity and any hope of a successful writing career. I’ve blogged about my lack of financial success and some of the self-publishing industry’s shadier practises here, in Between the Lines. I’d like to draw your attention to this quote about a website of which I used to be a member:

If I protested, dared to say that it didn’t seem like anyone was bothered about improving their writing any more, a popular saying was “Look to your own paper.” In short, learn to game the system, mind your own business, or shut up.

In other words, “Don’t point out the scams we’ve got going on or we’ll just accuse you of being jealous.” It’s very widespread in romance publishing, this culture of silence. People are afraid to speak up in case it damages their career and that is why people only tend to flag shady behaviour publicly when they’re done. Not because they’re throwing a grenade over their shoulder as they leave, but because it’s a relief to finally…not care any more.

But, you know…if that grenade happens to go off, so be it.

Two and a half years ago, nearly three, I published The Story on my blog, about an, er…interesting experience I’d had at the beginning of my romance-writing career. It generated quite some interest in publishing’s whisper network. If you haven’t already read it, please do so, otherwise what follows will make very little sense. It’ll be like reading the sequel before Book #1. 😉

Back now? Read it all? Good. And yes, I’ll be telling you who “Erika” really is at the end of this blog post.

So, about a year and a half ago, I received a message from one of Erika’s former co-writers on social media. We’ll call them Jay, just for the sake of not referring to them as ‘this person’ or ‘the co-writer’ all the time. I never was a fan of clumsy epithets.

So, Jay got in touch with me after their writing partnership with Erika imploded. I’m easy to find online. And the way it had ended made Jay think…this is remarkably similar to the kind of things Scarlett alleges. The very things Erika had warned were a load of lies, born of jealousy.

Remember, in my blog post above (you have read it, haven’t you?), I’d said:

My concern has always been, “Ah, who’s going to believe me anyway?” By calling out a far-more-well-known author, there’s a chance of looking jealous.

Talk about accurate. Either I’m clairvoyant or Erika is predictable.

Jay’s opening message to me was words to the effect of, “I know you probably don’t want to hear from me right now, but my writing relationship and friendship with [Erika] is over; I wanted to apologise for taking her side over yours. I’ve just read your blog and Erika’s behaviour described there so closely mirrors my experience with her that I know you were telling the truth all along.”

Why had Jay even read my blog at all? Well, apparently, Erika had always told them not to believe a word I said regarding our previous ‘friendship’, piquing their interest. Which, if you think about it, is an admission of sorts. Why try to prevent your writing partners and allies reading a blog post about a pseudonymous someone’s bad behaviour, unless you are the guilty party being discussed?

Too, Jay even informed me that “Erika says you’re stalking her.” Which is an interesting thing to say, given that Jay was so concerned about her “obsession” (Jay’s word, not mine) with my Twitter feed that on numerous occasions, they attempted to counsel Erika into just…letting it go, which she refused to do, instead choosing to constantly piss and moan about inconsequential things I said online.

And yet I’m the stalker. Ironic, given that I’ve also been informed she’s said, “If only Scarlett concentrated as much on her writing as she does on stalking me, her career would be in a different place.”

Yes, if only I concentrated as hard on passing off others’ work as my own, while obsessively reading someone’s tweetstream and telling my cohorts the other person was stalking me, I too could be a friendless user who has difficulty writing entire books unassisted.

So, what was the ultimate reason for the Jay/Erika partnership coming to an abrupt end, you probably want to know? This, again, from my The Story blog post:

That was the point our friendship, such as it was, died. I can be supportive of and happy for a friend — hell, if I couldn’t, why would I have helped her sell books? But as soon as I met with success, I was no longer as readily available to bolster her career.

Jay met with a period of deep personal and financial crisis which Erika dismissed as inconvenient to her writing career.

Yep, you read that correctly. Jay was going through a very difficult time, which meant…they were no longer as readily available to bolster her career. Exactly as I said in the extract quoted above. It was a dashed inconvenience to Erika that Jay was no longer emotionally available. It mucked up her planned writing and publication schedule, having a writing partner deal with other issues, so she washed her hands of Jay and moved on to one of her umpteen subsequent writing partners. I mean, if you can’t keep even one of a subsequent string of writing partners happy, you’ve got to ask yourself what the common denominator is there.

That was ultimately what influenced Jay to get in touch with me and open the lines of communication; my blog post having the ring of truth and accurately describing the lived experience of someone else who had dealings with Erika. Someone else who had realised they were surplus to requirements when serving her career was no longer a top priority.

Jay tells me they really thought they and Erika were genuine friends, but now doubts Erika even knows how to ‘do friends’ and Jay is gun-shy about forming friendships in the writing industry.

Since then, I’ve had seven or eight people contact me on Twitter to ask, “You know your blog post…are you talking about so-and-so? Because…” then they go on to relate experiences they’ve had with the very same person. And the fact they all, all, guess the same name? Isn’t that telling, for seven or eight people to all guess the same name when certain patterns of behaviour are being discussed? I wish I could repeat those individual experiences here, but often times I’m sworn to secrecy. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of “Don’t bring me into it; I don’t want to cause a fuss.” I can’t really blame them for that. After all, I’ve keep my own counsel on it for years, now. Afraid that people wouldn’t believe me, or back me up if I dared come forward.

But a few have since confirmed it to be the case that if they wanted to work with Erika, be friends with her, they should block me on social media. Why? Because apparently, I’m a liar who’s only jealous of her writing success. And it’s easier to snow someone if you cut them off from the person who’s telling the truth. I’ve had confirmation from multiple sources that Erika “strongly advises” people to cut me dead.

I mean, seriously. Think about it. If I were lying, who cares? Only the truth would scare her that much.

How does all this tie in with my utter disillusionment with publishing, and my own lack of success? Well, let me just say I’m not blaming anyone else for me selling only a handful of books every month. I’m not owed a certain amount of money (although I’d like it). I’m not owed a particular number of readers (although I’d like them). No, it’s the loss of time spent on creating books with little to no little financial return and seeing authors behaving badly, combined, that gets me down.

You see, overnight, I’ve been asking myself — is it writing itself I want to walk away from, or the whole idea of Romancelandia with its attendant backstabbing? Writing used to be a fun hobby but there was always the thought in the back of my mind of making money from it someday. And that hasn’t happened after God knows how long of trying. So why not just write for the fun of it and forget trying to make a living from writing? Because I do not want any part of a group that allows such behaviour as I’ve previously described, condones it, or even encourages it. Could I continue writing in my own time and just forget trying to ‘fit in’ to the industry? Who knows? Who the hell knows?

Often, shady practises and flat-out shady people are open secrets in Romancelandia, but others either don’t care enough to call them out (if readers), or are too scared to do so (if writers).

Even when folks do stand up and say “Now, hang on. Such-and-such is going on and it’s not right!” you can’t rely on anything changing. For example, a fellow writer we’ll call, uh…Jenny Troutbecause that’s her name and she had it first and yes, I have permission to say what I’m about to say. For example, Jenny Trout has had to deal with someone publishing under exactly the same name as her. I know, I know. If you happen to have the same legal name as someone else that can’t be helped, but if Writer 1 is already published under their legal name, wouldn’t Writer 2 be better off, as a courtesy, using a pen name to differentiate between the two? It’s like actors joining Equity. If someone else already has the name you want to use, you have to pick another one as your stage name.

Because of the similarity in names bar a one-letter difference, readers confused her work and that of the other author, to the point of accusing her of copying the other writer, despite having been published first.

Although “our” Jenny wasn’t plagiarised herself, there are allegations that her clone plagiarised other people. I’ve found an article online which details the matter here, called Coincidences.

The above concerns were dismissed and in fact the other writer’s fans told Jenny Trout to get off the internet and go kill herself. JLA never, to my knowledge, called her fans off. No-one can help having the same legal name, right? No, the cover art similarities were all a massive coincidence. Run along, little girl, and stop causing trouble.

And as if that wasn’t enough, some time later, a whole series of astonishing coincidences popped up in an Alexa Riley book — character names, settings, tropes, you know — skirting a line that’s just way, way too thin for it all to be coincidence. And yes, that’s the same Alexa Riley who’s just had her (their; it’s a writing partnership) Amazon account banned for unspecified reasons. Alexa Riley herself (themselves?) says it’s a blip and their legal team is on it. Amazon doesn’t just delete your KDP account on a whim. There’s something shady going on. Considering I’ve had people tell me backchannel that AR uses ghostwriters and page-read bots, I know who I believe. And that’s without mentioning the questionable ethics of having a book review blog where you give your own work written under a pen name an award, before deleting said review blog to sweep it all under the carpet.

The self-appointed Queen of Romance (yes, I mean Courtney Milan), famed for saying “I never comment on matters that don’t concern me,”…commented on matters that didn’t concern her, and dismissed Jenny’s concerns about JLA as nothing important, and the similarities between one of her books and one of AR’s apparently didn’t count as “real” plagiarism. (CM had never had any dealings with Jenny before, except for passing her at a writers’ conference but that didn’t stop her claiming to be “friendly” with Jenny Trout, who had never given CM permission to speak on her behalf.)

It’s remarkable — and by that I mean total bullshit — because when CM and a bunch of her pals were later plagiarised, the entire internet was expected to don sackcloth and ashes and mourn for forty days and forty nights. I said it was hard to give a damn about their situation given how dismissive they had been about my friend’s publishing industry troubles and Tessa Dare ended up subtweeting people who (and I paraphrase) “only care about plagiarism when it happens to their friends”, suggesting they should stay away from related hashtag discussions.

Uh…lack of self-awareness, much, self-appointed Twitter police?

Which brings me back to my point that sometimes, you can flag bad behaviour in Romancelandia, and things will just carry on as if you had never said a word, because unless you’re a big enough name, nobody cares to listen. If your face doesn’t fit, tough luck.

There are rumours about some folk in Romancelandia that can go on for years. Lots of whisper networks and backchannel discussions from people too cautious to speak up publicly. The shady behaviours and people being discussed are sometimes too big, too influential, or in some cases, too fond of making threats, to be called to account. If the pressure builds and the dam bursts, a number of people may come forward to say they’ve experienced the same thing with the same person or publisher or what have you…but you can’t rely on that happening. You cannot rely on backup and support in an industry based on writing about love.

Plus, by the time it all comes out, if it does, some people are already so disillusioned by the corruption and backstabbing that they’ve left romance publishing altogether. Who knows the total cost to the industry as a whole because of this? We’re losing writers and editors and cover artists because sometimes, it’s just too much bother dealing with the shitstorm that is romance publishing.

So what steps do I plan to take with regard to writing? Will I write anything at all?

  • First of all, I’m going to finish Read Me. It’s three quarters done and whatever happens, it would be a crying shame to put the work in to write 60k words and abandon it so close to the finish line. Besides which, I owe it to my Patreon patrons. I mean, I literally owe it. They’ve supported me thus far. Plus, it’s part of a series, so.
  • Same with the menage novella of which I’ve written 5k words. Not ‘same’ as in part of a series, but it’s a manuscript on which I’ve started work and I don’t want to leave it partially done. Whatever my feelings about my future in fiction writing or lack thereof, I am obliged to my patrons. I’ve promised them the book, and they shall have it.
  • Whether anyone else wants to buy copies of Read Me and the menage novella remains to be seen when they’re edited and published.
  • I have absolute no interest in trying to fit in with Romancelandia any more. Now, I’m not saying I was ever super-desperate to, but there was perhaps a willingness to keep the peace or give people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been screwed over and let down far too many times to think folk even deserve the benefit of the doubt now. Plenty of people know about shady behaviour and dishonest people and the ones who are too scared to speak up? That, I can understand. But those who cover it up because they don’t want to rock the boat, or the person being accused stands to do something for their writing career? They can suck a bag of rancid donkey dicks. I have no interest in even sharing the same online space with them.
  • Oh, and as for Erika? You can go back and re-read The Story and this blog post with the knowledge I was talking about LA Witt all along.

If anyone has additional information or experiences to relate connected to anything in this blog post, I’m easy to find online. Email me. As regards Alexa Riley, Jenny Trout tweeted a whole thread here. Please go read it. In the thread, she makes the offer of being a listening ear to anyone who has been plagiarised or otherwise mistreated.

Well, I reckon I’ve shat all over any hopes of having a shadow of a writing career now but I went into this blog post with my eyes open. There’s the small matter of not wanting to be part of any club that would accept me, anyway. So if you’re feeling charitable, feel free to drop a couple of bucks in my tips jar over on Ko-Fi or have a look at this Universal Book Link and consider buying one of my books.

Posted in authors behaving badly, sorry I'm all out of fucks | 28 Comments

No, we’re not all jealous of Kristen Martin

I wasn’t going to mention any more about the Kristen Martin thing after my blog post last Tuesday but whadaya know, Authortube drama refuses to die. Just another way in which she’s similar to a vampire.

You all know how to read the #ARCsAreFree hashtag on Twitter so you can go have a look-see at that. KM has posted a video on YouTube and the comments section is a trip. And yes, I’ve downloaded it in case she goes and deletes or privates this one, too:

It would appear she’s going the “Women tearing other women down are just triggered!” route, which I can’t say surprises me; it looks as if she’s deciding to bury her head in the sand and refuse to take on board any criticism. While some has been a tad…vehement, shall we say (and there’s no need to insult or name-call), such remarks usually come from a place of frustration at the people offering such, not being listened to. The criticism itself (that $150 for an ARC is a rip-off, she’s just not that good a writer, no writing or success course is worth $2k, she’s on shaky ground legally selling a course on the back of the NaNoWriMo name) is legitimate, and Kristen Martin is refusing flat-out to address it.

Her fangirls will say, “Why criticise her online? Why not go to her directly?” It’s a bit difficult to do that when you ask her to address your concerns and she blocks you on social media and pretends this whole thing isn’t happening, or chooses to believe you’re just jealous or triggered, or mobilises her fangirls to report other people’s online presences. No, I’m not joking. The following are screenshots from underneath the aforementioned video.

KM screenshot

I don’t have Instagram, so I have no access to her Instastories, but I’m told she’s posted something similar there, asking her followers (and Lord, how I want to refer to them as minions) to mobilise, and report anything they view as ‘hate’. Now, we all know that what Kristen Martin says is hate, is what I would call legitimate criticism of her business practises.

It’s an undeniable fact that KM’s followers overreact to criticism of her methods as a direct threat to their Queen’s bodily safety. Maybe it’s because their egos are so closely bound up with hers, I don’t know. But they really need to accept that in publishing, you’re gonna be criticised.

KM’s problem seems to be that no-one’s ever said no to her before and meant it. No-one’s ever said “Your writing isn’t that good,” during her formative time as an author and shown her how to improve. And why would she make any effort to do so now, when she has 36k YouTube followers and so many people willing to stand up for her against the ‘haters’ while she sits back and…lets them?

Screenshot 2019-06-04 at 03.19.36 - Edited

I’m not exactly sure how claiming to be taking a break from social media, ‘liking’ all supportive comments and thereby proving you’re still hanging around, and thanking people for reporting other authors’ videos qualifies as spreading positivity and “love and light” Kristen, but you do you, I guess? So much for women supporting other women, huh? I guess feminism is only a thing when it suits your bank balance.

It’s long been my belief that things like this tend to flare up with authors who are self-published only, which in Kristen Martin’s case, appears to be her publishing history. She’s been rejected by several agents and rather than taking this as a hint her writing needed to improve, she chose to self-publish. Thus, she’s never been through the normal editing process of a publishing house, where her manuscript is pulled to pieces and she’s contractually obligated to work to improve it. If she’s actively avoided professional criticism that early in her career, it stands to reason she’d be unable to deal with it now; she’s never had to, before. But all it means is that she looks as if she’s burying her head in the sand and pretending everything is fine when it isn’t. People have legitimate concerns about:

  • The quality of her writing
  • The whole selling ARCs for $150 on Patreon thing (note: unethical is not the same as illegal)
  • The cost of her writing and ‘success’ courses; what are her credentials? Why does she think her courses are worth that much?
  • The legality of selling a ‘Conquering NaNoWriMo’ course when she’s not entitled to use their name
  • Is it true or is it false, that she makes customers or clients sign an NDA banning them from saying anything negative about her or her courses, post-purchase? (One supporter of KM has said basically so what, it wouldn’t be legally enforceable, but if someone is gullible enough to sign up for a KM course, they might not be aware of this and the fact KM is possibly using the threat of legal action to silence people is in itself worthy of scrutiny.)
  • When did she quit her corporate job, exactly? Does she still work from home, or work part time? What percentage of her income comes from writing, or from other work? Now, you may ask, “What business is that of anyone else’s, Scarlett?” It’s everyone’s business when Kristen Martin is selling an aspirational lifestyle of “Do what I do and you too could quit your corporate job and live your passion!” Kristen Martin’s employment status is very much relevant as it speaks to the veracity of her claim to be a successful “creative entrepreneur”. If she still does other work on the side, she’s selling her success courses based on a lie. Note, I’m not asking how much money she earns from this job or that job. I’m asking what percentage of her income is from writing, from the corporate world, and from her success courses. Even if it was half from writing, half from the corporate world, be honest about it.

In the past day or two I managed to finish reading her personal development book, Be Your Own #Goals and truth be told, it’s nothing remarkable. There’s nothing new in it; it reads like a hodge-podge of every other faux-spirituality book on the market, crossed with an overpriced advertisement for her Valiance course.

The parts that are supposedly personal, experiences from her personal life, are…well, they’re badly written. They just are. Typos on every page, incorrect word usage, inconsistencies, you name it. Things like, as has already been mentioned in reviews on Goodreads, waking up in a “pile” of her own drool. It’s as if Kristen Martin uses words vaguely adjacent to the ones she intends. Drool doesn’t “pile”; it’s fluid. Does she mean pool, or puddle? Claiming to always be healthy, then mentioning drinking three glasses of wine and stuffing her face with pizza. And for God’s sake, white Westerners, learn how to spell the name Gandhi.

But the worst part of the book for me was the mention she made of her ex-fiance and the reasons behind their breakup. I won’t name him or go into detail here because it’s not my story to tell and…that’s my issue. It’s not Kristen Martin’s story to tell, either. She makes accusations about him without him having the right of reply, in a book she’s attempting to sell to people all over the world. Basically badmouthing someone she claims she was never happy with, in all the three years of their relationship. (Never? Really? Never once happy, despite all those holidays, living together, gushing in the acknowledgements to a book about how she couldn’t wait to marry him?)

None of my business, gotta say that. Absolutely none of my business what goes on behind closed doors but there’s something hinky about bringing someone else into your personal development book without giving them a chance to tell their side of the story.

Because you see, that’s what we’ve been asking you for, Kristen; the other side of the story. Your side. But you’ve yet to directly address the issues at hand.

  • Questions and criticism are not hate.
  • Please, tell your followers that those among us who are asking you questions or criticising your work are not jealous. If I were going to be jealous of another writer, I’d choose someone who was a) talented and b) selling more copies than I do.
  • If you don’t want to address any of the above issues directly, fine, that’s your choice, but you don’t get to dictate how other people react to that. Avoiding the issue makes you look guilty of something. We just want to know why your ARCs are worth $150, why your courses are worth $2k, what percentage of your income comes from writing…basically, what are your credentials? I got some dental work done last year; my dentist’s qualification certificates are framed on her waiting room wall, so I knew she was able to do the job. Those who are qualified to do a particular job and have the credentials to teach others how to do that work, should never be reticent about proving themselves.

That’s not hate. That’s due diligence. And if you’re asking for people’s time and money, they deserve to have proof that you are worth it, and that you are qualified.

Bottom line is, Kristen, they deserve to know that you practise what you preach.

Posted in #ARCsAreFree, authors behaving badly, Kristen Martin, YouTube | Leave a comment

The most dramatic ARC story since Noah’s

And yes, I’m well aware Noah’s Ark is spelled with a K. Screw you, it’s funny. But! It wouldn’t be Tuesday without more author drama. Fair warning, this blog post will be link-heavy. Yesterday another author alerted me to the #ArcsAreFree hashtag on Twitter and I realised it was focused on a writer I was already aware of, Kristen Martin.

I’d watched her YouTube channel for a while, ever since one of her writing-related videos popped up in my suggestions. I never subscribed; didn’t need to, as I watch so many writing-related videos that the algorithm or chance or fate always made hers visible whenever she uploaded a new one anyway. And I thought, “Okay, I’ll have a look.”

Channel link here.

However. Over time they became less day-in-the-life, more like a commercial for whatever company was sponsoring her video on that day. More materialistic. The production became more slick, which is a good thing, but everything became about money, money, money, which…isn’t so good. Now I understand, everyone’s got bills to pay, but when your YouTube videos spend more time enthusing about writing gloves or hand soap you were gifted by this or that company, rather than writing advice, that makes me think you’ve run out of material.

I continued to watch when “Oh this could be interesting or helpful,” morphed into a bloody minded curiosity and “What’s she selling this week?” It became my Monday routine to set up a playlist of videos from various YouTubers to watch, sit my Chromebook on a shelf, and get on with my cleaning and chores. A sort of passive, background thing.

And that’s before we even get around to the fact she charges $2,500 for a writing course (!!!) even though her own books (none of which I’ve managed to finish) have some not-very-complimentary reviews on Goodreads, a couple of which I’ll link to later in this blog post. Often people spill tea in those reviews’ comments, referencing shady behaviour – gathering friends to 5-star-bomb her books, that kind of thing. Not illegal, but definitely unethical.

Speaking of which.

A week or two past, KM posted a video in which she mentioned – yet again – her Patreon page, and the fact she’d added something to one of the tiers – if you sponsored her at the highest tier, $50, for three months in a row, you could get an ARC of her upcoming book, Soulflow, a month before it’s due to be published.

Essentially, you’re pre-ordering an unfinished copy of a book that will be published a month later, anyway.
Patreon ARC
Just think about that – $50, for three months in a row. That’s $150, before you even get your hands on an ARC, something authors usually give away for free, to create buzz around an upcoming release.

My initial reaction was to add up the cost to Patreon supporters, think, “Jesus Christ, who the hell would pay that much just to get one book when they could buy it a month later on Amazon much cheaper anyway?” and get on with my chores. Baths don’t scrub themselves, yo, and there’s no-one else around here to do it for me. I have a teeny-tiny following online, and if I said something, who’d listen to me? (About charging $150 for an ARC, I mean, not the sad fact my bathroom doesn’t clean itself.)

Anyway, over the weekend the #ArcsAreFree hashtag blew up, and I only just heard of it yesterday after I got home from peopling. Basically, what it meant was, a lot of people online had cottoned on to this, and were calling it out as hella shady. Why? The wording of the hashtag says it all.

Apparently Kristen Martin herself responded in a series of tweets which she later deleted but hey, screenshots exist and the internet never forgets. Added to which, she’s added those self-same tweets as a pinned comment to the YouTube video in question, so why delete them from Twitter?:

YouTube comment

The video itself is here; skip ahead to 9m 17s if you want to watch KM explain how you can get an ARC. If you want to hear the blurb for the book she’s talking about, you’ll need to scroll back a few minutes before that:

[Edited 4am, Thursday 30th May: looks like the video has been taken down. I knew I should have downloaded it myself so I had a backup copy!]

[Edited 14:30, Thursday 30th May: A. S. Howell snagged clips of the video in her YouTube video right here:]

KM was also quoted in the comments of her original video as saying “It baffles me that some people choose to utilize their platforms to tear others down instead of lift others up. Even so, I’ll continue to spread love and light because the world can always use more of that.”

Which is all very well, I guess, but one of the problems I have had with her for a while now is the conflation of disagreement, or people questioning her actions, with ‘hate’ or ‘tearing others down’. Asking why you’re doing something isn’t hate, Kristen. It’s giving you the opportunity to explain your reasoning.

There’s an overwhelming air of fake spirituality in that, claiming to be above such things while refusing to take responsibility for your actions. “I’m all about the love and light, I only try to build people up, also, give me two and a half thousand dollars for a writing course even though my own books have had the arse torn out of them on Goodreads.”

Eve K’s reviews of:

I picked the above two reviews in particular because the comments make particularly interesting reading, but there are many other reviews and reviewers to choose from.

We’ve all got bills to pay. I get that. But if someone is offering such a damned expensive course online when you can learn from Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, others, for one twenty-eighth of the price, well…that’s some brass neck on the lass. You have to look at the qualifications of the person offering such a course. How many books have they sold? Who to? Are they traditionally-published or self-published? Are their books edited? By whom? How many times? What are their sales like? What percentage of their income comes from writing, as opposed to, say, a day job, the details of which you’ve fudged, Kristen?

KM has been blocking people on Twitter and deleting all comments from YouTube that could be perceived as ‘negative’, i.e. asking her for details or an explanation. You’ll note that the comments under the video to which I linked above, are all high praise indeed. No-one on YouTube gets 100% positive comments. No-one. And there are several people talking about how they’ve posted comments on KM’s videos, only to have them deleted. Not disrespectful or insulting comments, but even questions like, “When exactly did you quit your job?” and “Why are you charging $150 for an ARC which other authors would give away for free?”

Instead of taking the opportunity to clarify her position, KM chooses to delete any questions or ‘negativity’ because it doesn’t vibe with her spiritual frequency or whatever. I’m told she’s taking a social media break because she’s burned out. From what? Hmm. Great timing. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

In the absence of her presence online or willingness to explain why her ARCs are worth $150 or to tolerate any comments that are less than fulsome, laudatory praise, other folk have taken to YouTube to discuss the matter.

Sarah Scharnweber’s video was the first I watched about all this:

I didn’t realise how many there were available. It’s like falling down a rabbit hole of Authortube drama. The Courtney Project has trouble keeping her shit together because of her anger in this video:

I would not mess with this woman!

pistachiopaperbacks goes into more detail about the quality of KM’s writing and how much she charges for her online courses here. Make yourself a large cup of tea; it’s nearly half an hour long, and worth every second:

You may also find the following links interesting:

  • L. E. Boyd’s blog post ARCs Are Free
  • Stephanie Braxton’s blog post That Grand Feeling of Letdown
  • If you’ve got some spare time – okay, a lot – there’s a thread on Guru Gossip which at the time of my writing this, is 14 pages long. It does descend into name-calling and insults on several occasions, and some accuse all creators who have Patreon pages of being lazy, which…of course I’d disagree with. Patreon isn’t a way to be lazy. It’s more work for writers, because you have to come up with more stuff to post. Or at least, that’s the way it should work, Kristen, but, whatever. If you can get past the temper tantrums and suchlike in that thread, it makes for a fascinating read.

Upshot is, no-one’s ARCs are worth $150, especially as an ARC is not the final publication-quality edition of the book.

Kristen Martin may like to play with spirituality online, but if she truly were interested in self-improvement, she would take constructive criticism (not character assassination; I mean a proper spiritual audit) on board instead of surrounding herself with Yes Men and fangirls. One said on Twitter, “When you’ve sold half as many copies as KM, then come speak to us.” Which brings me to my next point…

She’s just not talented or successful enough to charge $2,500 for a writing or ‘success’ course when it’s material cribbed from others and some of her books hover around similar levels to mine on Amazon. I mean, Christ, I don’t sell for shit; how can someone charge $2,500 for an online course telling you how to make a success of your business when she hardly sells any books, judging by their online ranking? I know how many books I sell to maintain their barely-there visibility and it ain’t many.

Even if I never sold any books at all, my position on this would be the same, and I’d still have a right to express that opinion. Authortube has stopped being a writing community with a shared goal of improving one’s art and craft. It’s increasingly become an extended commercial for side hustles, courses, webinars. If these people knew what they were doing, wouldn’t they sell more books? How can you tell other people how to make a success of their writing when you rely on shady practises to make your money, rather than storytelling talent?

*sigh* I need to schedule this blog post to go up this evening, and go have a bath. Unfortunately I am required to leave the house again today, and speak to other humans. Of course I’d rather stay home and stir up drama online, but oh well, can’t be helped. Comment freely below, share this blog post, call me a jealous hater. *mwah* 😉

Posted in authors behaving badly, Patreon, self-publishing, YouTube | 6 Comments

More ‘negative reviews’ fuckery on Twitter

Late again, but whadaya expect? This is me we’re talking about! Besides, it’s still Friday in America, so it’s your own fault for living in the wrong timezone. (Which includes me, given that its 1am on Saturday here.)

Okay, so, some quick thoughts on this week’s Twitter drama – one-star reviews. No, I’m not talking about my own. Mainly because I’m a fucking genius and nobody would dare one-star me. I kid! I kid!

No, but seriously; this week there has been an unholy number of authors complaining on Twitter about readers one-starring their work on Goodreads and various other sites with an insufficiently detailed review, citing opinions the author disagrees with, or without having read the complete book.

We’ll deal with those points in order. First of all, authors complaining that readers are not being sufficiently detailed in their reviews. Excuse me? You expect a treatise from someone who’s spent money (one hopes) and time on your book?

You’re the one who writes books; you’ve got no right to demand a reviewer goes into exacting detail, matching your productivity. It takes much less time to read a book than it does to write one, which is why readers read many more books than individual writers write. If reviewers, particularly in the romance genre, which has voracious readers, were obligated to write detailed reviews for every book they read, their reading time would be eaten up.

Why do so many writers desire detailed reviews? Well, this week I’ve seen many say that detailed reviews help them figure out what they’re doing wrong, where they can improve, and so on.

This is the job of an editor, not a reader, and you have no write to demand reviewers act as unpaid editors.

Now, no-one is expecting your book to be absolutely dead-on balls perfect. Typos always creep through. However, your book should be as good as you can possibly get it before you publish. You should be fairly confident you couldn’t get it any better, rather than publishing a book you know to be sub-par. If you even suspect your book to need further work done to it, why the hell are you publishing it?

Secondly, a number of writers have been saying the opinions of reviewers are wrong.

Which is complete bullshit.

As I have often said on Twitter with regard to politics, “You are entitled to your own opinions. Not your own facts.”

I spoke before in “How not to handle a negative review” about how I’d reported reviews to Amazon myself because they were based on an inexplicable dislike of me, the author, rather than the books themselves. Too, the ‘reviewer’ was lying about having bought the book. Amazon decided to delete this person’s not-reviews due to their claim of having bought the books being demonstrably, factually incorrect.

On another occasion, I read a review of one of my novels on Goodreads (oh, shut up, every author does it, I don’t care who they are) which the reviewer decided they hated, which is perfectly within their rights. However, they hated it because of something that wasn’t in the book. I’m not saying they misinterpreted the text. I’m saying, they reported something in their review that I hadn’t written. Not even in the first draft, which was later deleted. They gave my book a one-star rating based on a conversation between the main characters that never happened.

What did I do? Well, what could I do? It’s Goodreads, not Amazon. I don’t even know if they had a complaints procedure, but as a friend said at the time, “Just leave it; you’ll only draw attention to it otherwise, and besides, if other people read the book, they’ll correct the wrong ‘un themselves.”

So, because the reviewer was so obviously incorrect, I judged my adviser to be giving good advice – to leave well enough alone, because other readers would put the first person right if necessary. Maybe they read another book at the same time as mine and mixed up the two? Who knows?

The above is talking about facts. Things that are in black and white. What about opinions, though? What if someone flat out doesn’t like your book?

Tough. Suck it up.

Yes, it hurts. No, you have no right to speak up about someone else’s opinion. Because it’s what they think of your book. What if their opinion is based on what you perceive to be a stupid reason? Again, tough. Maybe you didn’t make it clear in the text what the characters’ motivations were. Maybe the story in your head didn’t translate onto paper with quite as much clarity as you’d hoped. You just have to face up to the fact that people are allowed to not like your work. Of course you disagree. You’re the author. But I’ll say it again.

People are allowed to not like your work.

Last reason I’ve seen authors give for being upset: readers not finishing their books before giving a rating, review or opinion online.

Big fat fucking deal.

As many other folks have pointed out, if you’re handed a shit sandwich, you only have to take one bite to realise it’s a shit sandwich. You wouldn’t be expected to eat the whole thing before being allowed to say, “This is a shit sandwich,” unless the other person was a psychopath, which, let’s face it, they probably are, if they’re expecting you to chow down on a shit sandwich.

Okay, bad analogy.

If you’re in a restaurant and the food is undercooked, overseasoned, not what you ordered, gone off, or otherwise not to your taste, you are allowed to refuse the rest of that meal. If you know you don’t like something, you’re allowed to discontinue engagement with that thing.

You do not have to read a whole book to realise the author’s style isn’t for you, or there are a lot of typos in the book, or their book is badly researched. Hell, you can stop reading a book for no apparent reason at all. (When this happens with me, it’s usually because of boredom.)

Let’s face it, even if simple boredom is the reason you DNF (did not finish) a book, that itself is an opinion or review, which you have the right to express. If an author cannot hold your attention, that alone says a lot about their skill, or lack thereof.

Fucking hell, this blog post is over a thousand words long and it’s twenty to two in the morning. Over 1k words in 40 minutes, proof that if I don’t produce more words in my fiction writing, it’s definitely not a mechanics thing. I know how to type.

Anyway, I’ll finish up by saying this. Might cop some flak for it, don’t give a shit.

Any author who complains about reviews from readers who DNF a book, saying they have no right to opine on a book they haven’t completely read, knows deep down that they do not have the skill and/or talent to hold a reader’s attention across 300+ pages. They just can’t do it.

Posted in authors behaving badly, book reviews | 1 Comment

How to highlight multiple uses of words in Google Docs

Any writers out there use Google Docs? This will be a short blog post this evening, just to give you guys a heads up about an add-on that I’ve found, called Writer’s Highlighter.

The other day I was loosely editing a chapter I’d just written of Read Me. I’m not normally one to do any editing at all until the whole first draft is complete, but the number of times I’d used the word ‘was’ leapt off the page at me, so I hit CTRL-F and did a search on the word. Unfortunately there was no way to highlight every usage of any particular word as I believe there is in MS Word, and I didn’t want to get out my ancient, creaking laptop and work on that. I bought this Chromebook for a reason. It’s far more portable than the old computer, and instantly on. (Like a Mac, so I’m told, but much cheaper.)

Was

Once you close this find and replace window, the highlights on all uses of your chosen word or phrase disappear.

I’d already used other add-ons (which I’ll maybe talk about at a later date) so I knew there was a way of searching for any functionality you wanted to add to Google Docs. You go to Add-ons > Get add-ons…and simply do a search. I looked up ‘highlight words’ and one of the suggestions was the aforementioned Writer’s Highlighter.

Once you’ve downloaded an add-on, you simply go to that menu, and to the title of the one you want to use, and click on start, or begin, or enable, whatever that ‘app’ decides to call it.

With Writer’s Highlighter, the following appears to the right of your screen:
Writer's Highlighter menu
You’ll note on that menu it asks for your Spreadsheet link. You’ll need to open either a new Google Sheets document, or add a new page to an existing spreadsheet, and add your chosen word or phrase to the first cell.
Spreadsheet cell
Then what you do is copy the URL to your Google Sheets document and paste it in the available box on your Writer’s Highlighter menu. Obviously I’m not going to screenshot that, because…my Google Drive details. Hit the little square to the right of ‘Spreadsheet link’, just before the question mark. This will refresh your details, and if your spreadsheet has more than one page, the ‘Sheet name’ drop-down menu will appear, giving you the options to choose. Same goes for ‘Sheet column’ if you have more than one list of words, or are using a column on a page with lots of other information on it – this enables you to be specific and basically tell the add-on, ‘only use this list of words’ or ‘only use this page of information’.

Scroll down a wee bit on your Writer’s Highlighter menu; this is the formatting I choose:
WH formatting
I choose to tick the ‘Bold’ box, and ‘Highlight colour’. (You don’t just tick the ‘Highlight colour’ box – you also have to click your mousepad somewhere on that colour square to choose the exact shade you want.) After that, hit the blue ‘Highlight!’ button and something like this should appear in the main body of your document.
Was highlights
You can then edit out your pet words and phrases as you so choose. Once you’ve done so, untick (or uncheck, if you’re American!) the ‘Bold’ and ‘Highlight colour’ boxes and hit ‘Highlight!’ again. Boom! You’re done.

I hope you find this useful, although as I’ve discovered to my great disappointment…this add-on doesn’t write the book for you. 😉

Posted in Google Docs | Leave a comment

Ted Bundy is the template for Christian Grey: a treatise

Something occurred to me the other night, after I’d hit publish on my blog post about Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile and how it compared to the facts of the Ted Bundy case.

Forgive me the name-dropping, but I was DMing with Jenny Trout on Twitter about death, serial killers, corpses, you know. The usual woman-to-woman, deep and meaningful philosophical gubbins you’ve come to expect from the likes of us.

And because Jenny is famed across the intarwebs for her autopsy (hurr, see what I did there) of the Fifty Shades trilogy (you’ll have to scroll down quite a ways, but it’s worth it), the two subjects kind of blended in my mind. Ted Bundy and Fifty Shades. Fifty Shades and Ted Bundy.

That was when I realised.

Christian Grey is based on Ted Bundy.

I can prove it. And thusly shall I so do:

  • Christian Grey was brought up in a children’s home (in Detroit?) after “the crack whore”, his affectionate nickname for his mother, died. Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell in the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont.
  • Christian Grey makes a big deal of wanting to “fuck little brown-haired girls” like Ana, girls who look like his mother. Which…yeah, that’s a whole other world of Oedipus I don’t even have time for. Ted Bundy had a college romance with a woman who’s often referred to as Stephanie, but it’s believed her real name might be Marjorie. This too could be another alias for the sake of privacy; who knows? She broke off their relationship and he was shell-shocked. However, he worked to improve his life, make something of himself, and won her back. He did so, so completely that they even discussed marriage in the early-to-mid 1970s. [Yes; there was an overlap between Stephanie/Marjorie and Elizabeth Kloepfer. Neither woman knew about each other until both relationships had ended, such was Bundy’s ability to compartmentalise different aspects of his life.] As soon as he’d won her back to that extent, he dropped her. Later, after she’d married someone else in December of the following year, Stephanie/Marjorie was known to have said she had a lucky escape. Now, here’s the thing – she had long, dark hair, parted in the middle, a ‘look’ which was definitely Bundy’s thing. She became the template for his future victims, most of whom were of a similar age to Stephanie/Marjorie, with long, dark hair, parted in the middle. He liked to “fuck little brown-haired girls” who looked like Stephanie/Marjorie. Sometimes they were still alive when he did so.
  • And sometimes they were dead, which brings me to my third point. Throughout the Fifty Shades book which, yes, I have been ‘lucky’ enough to read, Christian Grey ties Ana-Rexic up before they have sex. Or more like, before he has sex with her, because why would she be a willing, consensual participant about whose pleasure he gives a flying fuck? He constantly tells her not to make a noise. And the purpose of the tying-her-up isn’t to restrict her movements slightly, or to tease her, or to set physical limits exactly. It’s to completely stop her moving at all. Now here’s the creepy match-up with Bundy. I mentioned in my previous blog post that he used to tie Elizabeth Kloepfer up during sex, and tell her not to move, to pretend to be dead. Now didn’t that send a shiver down your spine? Grey has sex with a woman who can’t move; Bundy had sex with a woman he didn’t want to move. Too, he also used to revisit the ‘dump’ sites and have sex with the corpses of his victims until they were, er…too squishy. He kept the heads of some victims for the same purpose. I’m gonna tell you right now, the following detail of what Bundy used to do to his victims is stomach-churning so I’ll whiteout the spoiler text and leave folks to highlight it for themselves. [SPOILER] Ted Bundy would often pack the vaginas of his victims with leaves, other greenery and mud that he found at the dump sites, to prevent the vaginal walls collapsing as the bodies decomposed. This enabled him to continue to have sex with the corpses for longer, until putrefaction and animals scavenging made this impossible. [END SPOILER.] Now I’m not saying Christian Grey would do all that…but I’m not saying he wouldn’t, either.

So being brought up in care or born in a home for Unwed Mothers aren’t consequences of Grey’s or Bundy’s own actions, but the other two bullet points definitely are. They both have an obsession with women who have a certain look, branded into their sexual psyche by the one woman they can’t forget. And they both like control during sex to such a degree that they even prefer it when their sexual partners don’t move, imitating death or even in Bundy’s case, being dead.

I believe I have proven that Bundy is the template for Christian Grey beyond all reasonable doubt; thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

Posted in Fifty Shades, Jenny Trout, Ted Bundy | 2 Comments