Saturday, November 5, 2016

Can We Stop Now?

Okay so this blog is going to be kind of ramble..ish so if you're not in the mood to read a particularly long/rambly blog you might want to pass this up. Oh, also if you're easily triggered please don't continue. I say that because we know in 2016 sensibilities are what matter most in the world.

So recently I've come across a novel that people are going batshit crazy over (before you ask, no, I don't know why batshit is used to describe a form of crazy nor am I aware exactly how crazy batshit can or cannot be) and the reaction is so volatile and frustrating that I couldn't just not speak about it. I'm sure some people saw my tweets the other day which vaguely referenced the situation.

The novel is called The Continent and it's a young adult novel by Keira Drake.

Certain people (read social justice warriors) are up in arms about this novel because they claim it perpetuates negative stereotypes (that nobody with an IQ about 10 actually believe in 2016) and thus it's a terrible book, proof the publishing industry is racist, and it/its author must be flamed for the good of the writing community! Yeah.

Okay for starters I will say that I haven't read this novel I've only seen the forsaken passages and did some research on it - but that's okay, because 90% of the people who are rating it down on goodreads haven't read it, either. They're just going along with whatever crackpot ignoramus is spouting racism and following suit.

In just the last forty-eight hours the novel has gone from a 4 star to a 2.8 star. And it's dropping lower as we speak. Let that sink in. An author's work is being dragged through the mud because someone found offense with her work. How is that acceptable? How is that any form of acceptable? Have people become such sheep that they'll believe anything anybody who has a soapbox says? Have people really become so easily offended and has the word racism completely lost its actual meaning? I don't know, all I know is that this type of behavior and ganging up is unacceptable.

The novel in question is about a white girl who wins a trip/obtains a trip to go to this mysterious continent to see the ongoing battle between two different tribes. Along the way she gets captured by the tribes and the "savage" people she was born/raised to believe were savage were actually intelligent, resourceful, etc. she learned that her misconceptions were just that. She learned to appreciate people who are NOT part of her own culture. Tell me again how this is racism? Tell me how it's racism for someone to learn that their prejudice is unfounded and grow to respect someone different than themselves because I just don't see it.

(Side note: apparently savage is now a terrible racial slur...we must inform Ben Savage and Fred Savage immediately so they can find an appropriate substitute.)

If I'm going to compare the novel to anything it would be "A Man Called Horse" by Dorothy M Johnson which was about a white man getting captured by natives and while originally thinking they're savages, learns that like him they're people with ideals, codes/rules, and morals. It's an excellent read if you haven't already.

The author in question did message the original shit-stirrer and explained herself, which of course is against rule #2 of being an author - never contact anyone who says ANYTHING negative about your novel because if you do you'll be a pariah and the hate will get worse. But to summarize, she explained the following:

"I feel like my novel was misrepresented today. It's not about white saviors if anything it's about privilege and how dangerous/destructive that can be. As a matter of fact PoC save the day and dozens of colors/creeds are represented."

That was apparently not a good response because it made things worse and just reinforced her ignorance and quote "white frailty" which I find funny because if the roles were reversed, the amount of backlash the author would receive from that is just...unimaginable.

I'm going to change topic here slightly. Obviously those who know me know that I'm mixed (Dominican/Italian) but I've always identified as Latino. I'm also gay. Do you know how many novels I've read where I felt Latinos were characterized incorrectly? Or how many novels I've read where gay people did/said cringy things that I would never say in a thousand years? TONS. But I didn't freak out, attack the novel, start a campaign against the novel, etc. etc. I just moved on. Because I understand that while my experiences are valid, they don't fit everyone. And that the way I see/do things might not necessarily be the way others see/do things. Just because I don't like something or it offends me, doesn't mean its bad/wrong. This seems to be another thing people forget in 2016.

And then you get a bunch of people saying "white people shouldn't write PoC because they don't do it right!" but then you have people bitching that there's not enough diversity/representation...well make up your minds. "Oh well do research!" Keira Drake apparently did do research and had PoC pre-read it, which they accepted it but that's not enough "Those PoC don't speak for everyone!"

FUCKING GAH. Do you see the paradox here? Am I crazy? I don't think I am. You can't win no matter what you do and it's ridiculous.

"But Michael, some people are offended by it so shouldn't something be done?" Yeah, it's called stop reading the novel and/or never read anything by the author ever again. But the idea that we need to force the author to change the entire story because random people think its not acceptable is highly toxic and just insane. And they're offended. So what? Are they going to catch leprosy or something?

This whole situation seems a lot like the one in the m/m community where some people suggest that women cannot write gay men correctly, which we know is not the truth. Anyone can write anyone. As I said above, everyone on this world is unique so just because something seems out of character for that person given their culture/ethnicity/gender/etc. doesn't mean nobody of that culture/ethnicity/gender/etc. would do/say the things that person does/says. It's called having an open mind, people.

The sad thing is Keira Drake and her publisher are probably going to give into the sensationalism and edit the story before it goes live rather than stand up for her free speech and her artistic right to keep the story as she originally envisioned it I.E. the whole point of publishing something, but whatever.

I'll end with this: just because you yell, complain, and whine the loudest about something, doesn't mean you're in the right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Past, Present, & Future

Hello there, lovely people!

It's been a decent while since I've made a blog...about four or five months? Who remembers. But I don't want to let this blog die completely so I figure I should update and let those who care about me know what I've been up to these past few months and what I'm going to be doing in the future.

So for those who don't know (and I didn't exactly broadcast it) my fiance and myself decided to leave our apartment behind and go stay with friends so we could save up money for a bigger place. Unfortunately, due to a few factors I don't wish to mention (nothing nefarious I just don't like bad talking anyone) the living arrangement didn't work out. But there was no getting our apartment we were kinda out of a home. Luckily, we were able to stay with my family but it was far from an ideal situation us having been used to being on our own for years.

This whole scenario resulted in me losing drive and general enthusiasm for most of the things I wanted to do during the late spring/summer seasons and as a result I fell behind of my personal plans.

Anyway, fast forward a few months later and we're now back into our own space which is a load of stress/anxiety off of my shoulders. And I've been able to gain back all the enthusiasm/drive I lost and channel it properly.

Before I jump into what I am doing this year I need to talk about what I'm not doing.

I've thought long and hard about this but I've decided to extend my previous hiatus from the M/M community. For those who don't remember, I made a Facebook status (link) talking about how I was taking a leave from writing for an "indefinite" amount of time and not going to any conferences for 2015...which also extended to 2016.

Even though I said I was going to be done with writing in general...I was still writing stories just not M/M specific stories. And this made me realize something that I was denying to myself for a long time which was the fact that I wasn't happy in the m/m genre.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being ungrateful or anything. I love all the true friends I've made and the people who have enjoyed my writing but it wasn't fun for me. Three years ago I was young and ignorant (still young, less ignorant now) and I allowed people to fill my head with illusions of grandeur.

I was force-fed the mantra that cute gay boys sell books. I was made to believe that I should go into a genre because that's where I would do the best and achieve the best success. And who doesn't want to be successful doing something they love to do? If someone says they don't want to be successful at something they love - they're a liar. Plain and simple.

So after being told this over and over I decided to "sell-out" and write M/M novels/short stories when it's never what I wanted for myself or for my work. I wanted to write meaningful stories filled with lots of adventure, mystery, and just a sense of wonder.

I never wanted to have my character's sexuality be the whole point of the story or have my character defined by their sexuality. I don't think anyone should be defined by their sexuality. People are more than who they fall in love with / who they sleep with.

I thought that the M/M community would be the perfect place for me...I mean it's a community which is built around the idea of love/acceptance of LGBT how would that not be the place for me? But, unfortunately, the love/acceptance isn't as thriving as you'd believe/like. I say this with no disrespect or malice intended to the people who have supported/loved me for the past three years but there's a dark side to the M/M community and it just seems to be getting worse, not better.

And the point where it becomes more about the drama, politics, and cliques and less about the stories, acceptance, and love is when I have to step back and say I want no part of it. That doesn't mean I'm not going to talk to my friends in the community...just that I need to do what's best for me mentally and unfortunately, the M/M community stopped being that months ago.

That being said I'm not ending my writing career. I'm going to just go to where my heart belongs and where it always has: YA / Young Adult. I need to focus on the genre I always loved and I've already met so many people from the YA community and they're so accepting and just it's refreshing.

I'm currently writing again and making such good progress. 20k words in under a week...which is more than I achieved from June 2015 to June 2016. Why? Because my passion has been invigorated. For once I feel like I'm writing for me and not for people who either don't understand me or seek to put me in a box or put my work in a box of what it should/shouldn't be.

I hope that the fans/people who enjoyed my previous books will check out the new ones when they come out because even though I'm constantly growing and learning my writing style remains the same so I hope you enjoy the new ones too.

Otherwise, I'm deeply sorry to those of you who love my M/M work and are waiting for Red Rose's completion. I'm just not in the proper head-space to give Alex the respect he deserves. I've honestly tried to write White Rose many times and it doesn't have the spark it's supposed to, the spark I felt the first novel have.

I know some people would be okay with just pushing out the novel / half-assing it but I'm not that person and I respect my readers way too much to just throw out something that isn't my 100% best. It's just how I am. Hopefully one day I'll be able to revisit Alex and his world.

Besides the writing I have two other things I'm working on. I've been working on a Fantasy TCG (Trading Card Game) since 2012 and I'm finally ready to start taking steps in order to release it. If you're interested or want to find out more you can like the page on Facebook (TCG Page)

I'm really excited about that project as I've been working with a few artists and I love TCGs so I'm hoping it'll do well. I plan on making a Kickstarter for it in the coming months.

Lastly, I've been pursing my love of baking. I've been making a lot of stuff from scratch, working with fondant, and different designs. I dream of opening a bakery one day. For now, I just plan on doing parties and stuff like that. I'm doing a project in November/December a 60 day anime/video game cupcake project where I design cupcakes based off of anime/video game characters. A different one a day. There will be more information on that in the near future.

I want to take this time to thank those of you who stuck through until the end. I hope that this blog didn't upset anyone but I didn't want to filter myself as blogs are supposed to be cathartic and editing that would deviate from the whole purpose.

I'll end it here.

Lots of love and applesauce <3

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Grinds My Gears

Hey everyone!

I'm blogging again which is actually a surprise to me as I haven't used this in such a long time and yet twice in a week I'm using it to talk about serious topics. But hey, at least I'm blogging.

So I was recently incensed about this issue after I saw someone talking about how someone felt entitled to an author's work without pay and how they were trying to pirate and how "authors make enough money!" etc. and well all of that is horrible and not true.

But it did get me thinking about something I hate.

I'm going to turn my attention on reviewers - now hold the flaming torches and delay the lynch mob for just a second. This blog isn't directed at ALL reviewers because I have many, many friends who are reviewers and without them, we authors wouldn't gain as much traction as we do.

But there is a group of reviewers who get me all flustered (no, not the ones who give me bad reviews - I love you guys! You make me better :D) and those reviewers are the ones who I'm going to be talking about.

I'm sure most/all authors are familiar with the practice of giving a reviewer a novel, for free, in exchange for an honest review.

It's fairly common, after all, because buying a novel is like...taking a small gamble akin to playing the lottery. You could spend 0.99 to $5.99 on a book and can either hate it or really really love it to the point where the author becomes one of your new favorite authors. I.E. you waste money or hit the jackpot. So an author giving a reviewer a free novel in exchange for an honest review helps circumvent that a bit because they're not taking a chance / wasting anything on their part, they just gain a free novel they may love and it's the author who stands to gain/lose on that exchange.

Except, there are some people/reviewers who take the novel and agree to do an honest review yet...never do. And those are the ones who upset me.

I can understand if life happens/things come up, but I could always ping the author and say "yeah, I couldn't review this because so and so happened, etc."

But to simply agree to do something and then not do it (after getting something for free, mind you) just really grinds my gears.

As I said earlier - reviews are SUPER IMPORTANT to an author's success. Without reviews, a novel will probably not sell well because there's no word of mouth to help it reach people.

And there's a vast difference between "here, take this book and if you like it, review it!" vs. "here take this book in exchange for an honest review" the former, there's no obligation but the later, I feel like there is and I feel like not following through is kind of a crappy thing to do.

To all the reviewers that do your thing and review hundreds of books a month, keep your promises, and help authors everywhere soar because of your brilliant opinions - keep doing you and you guys are awesome. <3

I apologize in advance if this offends anyone but it's my honest opinion.

And with that, I bid you farewell!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Share Love

Hey friends.

This post is going to be a bit different and I'm not going to do my usual format.

I'm sure everyone knows the tragedy that happened recently in Orlando. Fifty brothers and sisters were lost and even more were hurt. It's such a terrible situation that I don't even know how to process it and I can't even begin to understand why someone would do such a horrible thing.

I've been told and I strongly feel that I've been gifted with a large capacity for empathy. As such, I find it hard to fathom how someone could just do such a thing. If it were me, I'd be thinking a thousand different thoughts like: "I wouldn't want to be hurt, so why would I hurt someone else?" or "I wouldn't want to lose a friend/brother/sister, so why would I cause someone else to lose their friend/brother/sister?" or "I'd hate to get a call that my child was killed, so why would I want to put someone else in that position?" etc. etc.

And it surprises me that these situations happen because it honestly feels like the person who did it either: (A) didn't think those things, or (B) didn't care. And I'm not sure which is worse.

The whole point of this blog post is that I've seen so many comments, posts, etc. about the tragedy and I think there's one important point that most are missing. Do not get angry. Do not hate.

I know that sounds odd, but let me finish.

Do not get angry - be upset, hurt, frustrated, etc. but do NOT get angry.

Do not hate - feel compassion, be worried, be understanding, etc. but do NOT hate.

If you let anger/hatred fill your soul you are only letting people like this win. People like this want to shake the foundation of life. They want you to become like them. They want you to stop loving, stop caring, stop feeling anything but what they feel which is anger and hatred. Do not give into that.

It's no secret that one of my favorite TV shows is Xena: Warrior Princess. At times like this I like to remember and reflect upon something Gabrielle said:

"There's only one way to end the cycle of violence and hatred, and it's through love and forgiveness."

And that's the honest truth of the matter. We can only prevent further events like this from happening when we continue to love with all of our hearts and share that love with everyone in our lives. The guy in question (I won't mention his name because I'd rather he be forgotten rather than immortalized for his horrible actions) hated himself for who/what he was. The scary thought is it could have been someone in your life. Someone in your life could have been the one to do such terrible things.

If you want to make a stand and make a change - just remember to love. I know it's hard during times like these, but please, don't forget to love and forgive.