I know it’s stupid, but there’s something that has obviously affected me deeper than I previously realised.
Back in 2012, when there was a scuffle on Goodreads that led to some particularly nasty people being kicked off, my books were targeted in a slew of hatred by a number of individuals Goodreads eventually permanently banned for their harassment and breaking of their terms of service. Among many of the artificial insults slung my way (because I was an author and therefore vulnerable to attack) such as my being jealous, my sending trolls after critics, and other things, was one insult that seems to have stuck in my mind all these years later.
It was targeted to my book the Edge of Darkness, which I self-published in 2011. The insult was that my book was ‘not long enough to be a real book.’
I guess that word count insult has stayed with me, because I wrote The Edge of Darkness in 2010’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event held every November that encourages you to write a 50K long book.
The world was a vastly different place back in 2011. Small press publishers didn’t have the clout they have now. Indie publishers and self-publishers didn’t have the clout and even the respect some of them have now. Some people assumed self-publishers would be producing traditional-publishing-worthy tomes but simply at cheaper prices.
I’ve made no secret the fact that I didn’t query The Edge of Darkness is because as a full-length adult sci-fi it only stood at 52K words, and traditional publishers only look at sci-fi if it’s much longer, around 70-110K. There was no way I was adding word padding to a completed story, so I was stuck. Small presses were so far off my radar I didn’t even consider handing my book over to them. I felt the only other option was to self-publish.
Three years later and I’ve noticed several things that have changed in the world around me.
The Edge of Darkness isn’t an adult book, it’s a New Adult book. My heroine, Max, is 26, but because she was a prisoner for five years she’s psychologically undeveloped and is still a young adult, I’d estimate in her early twenties. She’s still facing issues other young adults aged 18-25 face. She’s just doing it in deep space with robotic parts. New Adult was barely a genre back in 2011. Now it’s everywhere.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of digital imprints are calling for books exactly this length. They want genre books up to 50K or thereabouts. They don’t want to wallop their readers with enormous books. They want to offer somewhat shorter fiction, to entice readers into investing less time and effort reading this one book, in the hopes the reader might read more.
When I wrote Storm of Blood, I was still stinging from The Edge of Darkness ‘not being long enough’ (according to a troll who was kicked off Goodreads for harassment, so I know it’s ridiculous I’m still stinging from that one insult). Storm of Blood topped in at 80K, but writing that much burnt me out. For a long time I couldn’t face writing something so long when I’m clearly made for writing shorter fiction. I know in the grand scheme of things 80K isn’t particularly long when there’s 110K-150K tomes out there vying for attention, but 80K is pretty respectful among the traditionally published. I don’t regret writing that much, because I do feel the story is complete and every word and every scene was needed.
But the next thing I wrote after Storm of Blood was much shorter. I needed a break from the pressure of producing longer fiction. I wrote a series of contemporary romance novellas. They topped in at 25K each, but they were a connected series.
And then I panicked, because Lissa doesn’t write contemporary romance. She writes sci-fi and paranormal books about kick-butt women with magical powers.
So I don’t even know if you’re ever going to see these romance novellas, which I honestly do love and am very proud of, because this genre doesn’t fit in with my brand. I’ve left them trunked for six months while I figure out what I want to do with them. Do I want to self-publish them under Lissa, or a pen name, or even query them?
And then there’s the question of the daunting task of the next Storm Force book. Storm of Magic is coming, I swear. But trying to match 80K in a year as well as the dozens of other books I want to write, including another sci-fi about superheroes and that paranormal bisexual romance I lost half of when my computer died… add on to that the pressure to be ‘successful’ and to churn out my work as fast as I can even though I have a day job and a family and my writing is a slow process anyway because I actually trunk my novels and leave them to breathe between edits…
…and the word on the street is that if you’re not producing 2 books a year, your audience will forget you…
All of this pressure is why I’m struggling to write anything long at the moment. Well that, and the fact that I literally have dozens of ideas and trying to catch one to pin it down is like trying to herd river water by throwing darts.
I’ve been writing short fiction, short stories, to keep up with the craft, but it’s nothing the sci-fi/PNR part of me can ever publish.
I’ll settle, eventually. I have lots and lots of books ready to be written. Maybe this is simply the post-Book 2 blues getting to me. We’ll see.
I’ve not wanted to say anything about Sirengate (which, despite happening in January, has only come to light recently) because, although it saddens me, it doesn’t affect me directly. I don’t follow the Story Siren (because I don’t enjoy her reviews) and I’ve kept to a small section of the book blogging world (Goodreads) until recently.
But now I’m breaking my silence, for what it’s worth. Not much, I know, but still.
Not to talk about the Story Siren. Well, not directly. More to talk about her fanbase.
Let me clarify: there are people who have lost respect for the Story Siren and have dropped all ties. There are people who have forgiven her for her transgression and moved on. And there’s a third group, who have taken it upon themselves to attack the original victims of the Siren’s crime. The people who run the blogs she plagiarised. The victims whose words she copied, knowing full well what plagiarism is.
I don’t know what the hate mail is saying, but I can guess. It’ll be along the same lines as Cassandra Clare’s fans when they conveniently forget her fanfiction was deleted off Fanfiction.net for plagiarism. Clare never confessed to her plagiarism, spinning a story that it was a game between her friends. The Story Siren has spun another story that takes the blame off her: that she didn’t realise, that it was a mistake or wasn’t deliberate, that she was confused, that she’s sorry and she doesn’t expect anyone to understand.
The similarities between the two events are somewhat similar, but the overwhelming similarity is how the fans who love her have reacted.
I’m not saying the Siren’s a criminal, but it’s similar to the family of a thief going to arms against the police when the thief is arrested. Someone has been wronged, and it’s not the Siren.
I don’t agree with going after the Siren with pitchforks, because everyone screws up every now and then. I don’t want this swept under the rug. But I certainly must condemn the fan reaction and backlash against the innocent bloggers who ‘dared’ to reveal the plagiarism. They didn’t even name her. It was the book bloggers who revealed who the plagiarist was.
It makes me terribly sad, and a little angry.
Since when has popularity been a replacement for integrity?
Well, if you didn’t before, you do now!
My short story collection, Storm Front, is currently on Amazon’s top 100 bestseller’s list for fantasy short stories.
This is going to annoy some people. Some other crap is going down on Goodreads where basically an author whose book I rated one star has sent her friends to rate my books 1 star. I’m so happy I’ve risen to Amazon Bestseller status now. Even though it’s horrible to be bullied that way, this shows that ratings don’t necessarily mean people will avoid your books.
I’m so awesome at rhyming.
The Archive of Lost Dreams and other paranormal tales is now available on Smashwords and, as a bonus, also on Goodreads (where I will shortly be adding the Storm Front short stories as well)!
Also – there’s another gorgeous cover! Whatever would I do without my wonderful cover artist? I don’t know.
I love it to bits. It’s so elegant and old-timey (wimey).
This Tenth Doctor gif is inserted purely for the viewing pleasure of Archer and Melbs. You’re welcome.
Four short paranormal tales.
The Archive of Lost Dreams: a little girl discovers the importance of dreams and wishes.
Roses Are Red: Nineteen year old Loren meets her guardian angel who is struggling with jealousy issues.
Don’t Even Peep: Eight year old Susan investigates the secrets in her Victorian home.
Round, Round The Fairy Ring: Seven year old Abigail’s new baby sister is replaced with a fairy changeling.
Go add the book to Goodreads and read the preview on Smashwords and buy it if you have a spare 99c!
Things have slowed down a lot here since NaNo ended. What with appearing on Gina’s blog a couple of times and everything being a bit crazy in my house since we found out we’re moving to Australia next year, helping some mates move house while still trying to keep up with my reading as advised by Stephen King (who says every writer should read every day)… I’ve lost my routine.
I’ve been writing reviews of books on Goodreads and it took me several days to write one for Hush, Hush because I’ve not been home and I need to have my bum on the chair to write. So while I’ve not been active here on the blog, I have been active in other areas.
I wrote a blog post available on Goodreads about a trolling author who’s been bullying some friends of mine.
That, and I got my hands on the Pirates and Nobles expansion pack for The Sims Medieval, and seeing as how I’m a high fantasy writer at heart, that game can actually fall under the category of ‘inspiration’.
However I haven’t abandoned you. I’m working on some new releases with my fabulous cover artist. I’ll be releasing The Archive of Lost Dreams on Smashwords soon, and Storm Front (and The Archive of Lost Dreams bundled together) on Amazon. So I’m sure you can forgive me for a lack of blogging when there’s going to be some new stories coming out, right?