Some people say I’m indifferent, but I don’t care.

reviews

Any author who says he doesn’t pay attention to reviews is lying. Same goes for celebrities who claim to never read what is written about them. Authors are forced to deal with reviews because readers do consider them when making a purchase. Poor reviews, regardless of what motivated them, hurt the author’s income directly. The effect isn’t quite so direct for actors. Tom Cruise is going to get paid, whether you like him as Jack Reacher or not.

I bring this up because I was curious why there was such a dichotomy with E. L. James’ Fifty Shades, especially book one. It seems most readers love it or hate it. I wondered if this phenomenon was going to bleed over to my parodies. It did and that bothers me. If I were selling 75,000 copies a day, like James, I would similarly not give much of a shit. Since, for me, reviews translate into sales, which translate into a dinner of hamburger and happy hour draft or chorizo penne and pinot, I need to give quite a shit. So, I tried to find the reason for the polarity of the reviews, and believe I have succeeded.

Many women who love her book, hate my parodies and vice versa. I believe the root cause is battered woman’s syndrome. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Hear me out.

The main figure in her book is Christian, who is domineering and abusive. He makes innocent Ana do things against her will. He strips her of her privacy, innocence, and virginity. He controls her, much as he has controlled many women before her. Naturally, there’s no talk of him causing physical harm. Still, make no mistake: A man like this in your life may bring you to orgasm, but don’t be surprised when he goes too far.

As I read her books, his character angered me because the last thing I want to see is a woman turned on by a beast like Christian. We all know five years hence she’ll be telling an officer and coworkers she got the bruises from falling. She’ll defend him because his love is intense. It’s an addiction. The high is worth the pain of the prick.

So, in my books I played off this character and called him out for what he is: a disgusting, self-entitled, deranged, misogynistic animal who doesn’t know how to treat others properly. Women who love James’ books and love her Christian character, defend him by abusing me in reviews. They can’t attack my character (Mormon), because he’s a gentleman. Instead they attack his creator, without regard for the fact that my books are humorous parodies.

If these 1-star reviewers don’t find my books to be funny, I can live with that. I can’t teach funny. But, they write these hateful reviews and attack me and my trade personally, instead of being honest with themselves and other readers about why my books make them uncomfortable. They’re suffering from battered woman’s syndrome, and don’t want the man-in-the-mind exposed for what he is.

I wish I could have psychological profiles done on the reviewers. I bet the 5-star reviewers would be women who see the real Christian and refuse to submit to abuse. That’s my kind of woman: strong and intolerant of anyone attempting to control them. To you, my dears, I give SIX STARS!

How NOT to deliver criticism.

NOTE: I apologize to my friends who are bored by this silly battle between a group of vampire fantasy authors and me. I’ll try to make this my final post on the subject.

Background: A fellow author posted a negative review (2 of 5 stars) on my book. I read her book (did not make it all the way through) and posted a 1-star review because I felt the book earned it, and to make my point that authors should not criticize each other in a public forum where it could hurt sales and livelihoods. Point was made. We both removed our reviews.

Then, some uppity authors (probably friends of hers) decided to pile on by trashing me on their blogs. They hurled personal insults and criticized my writing. If they did this to get attention, I’d understand the motive. I won’t mention the blogs or people specifically, as they don’t deserve the exposure.

The most pompous of the asses slams me for mixing a past tense sentence in a present tense paragraph. Here is his biography on Smashwords. How many tenses are in this?

“[asshole’s woman’s name removed] has a doctorate in English literature.
[shithead’s name removed] was in the Navy for more than fourteen years, both enlisted and as an officer, before he cashed out and started writing. Together, she and [fartbag’s name removed] have written more than thirty sf/f books. They live in Colebrook, New Hampshire.”

After seeing his picture, I realize there’s no insult I could hurl that would exceed the severity of the one his ancestors delivered. Ooh-fah!

Perhaps I should explain my stance about authors posting negative reviews (as in below average or highly critical) with an analogy:

If a chef of a popular restaurant visited a rival restaurant, dined there, and then published a negative review of the rival’s chef, how would that be perceived? Jealousy, right? Even if the food was sub-par, the chef is out of line. Would it be less egregious if that review were posted by the restaurant owner? I think not. If that chef were to speak in person to the rival’s chef and suggest another way of caramelizing onions, that could be respectable, if done tactfully.

This scenario applies to most professions. Heck, it even applies to parenting. Don’t you cringe when you see a parent scold a child in public? Must children be forced to learn through embarrassment? Jeez, I hope not.

So, people, please exercise restraint when criticizing others in a public forum. It’s not nice, and you’re not going to correct anyone by embarrassing them or damaging their livelihoods.

Since I get to have the last word in this (it is my blog), and I know the jealous author who attacked me will read this, here you go:

“Fuck you, Mr. M–the mule you rode in on, the tic on its ass, the flea on the tic’s ass, and the microbe on the flea’s ass.”

See, I learned nothing from you–still mixed case.

When you forgive, you encourage bad behavior.

Forgiveness sucks; give it up. I don’t care what ancient texts say. We are ruled by Nature, and Nature does not forgive. The squeaky wheel that gets greased will be squeaking again soon. Best to replace that wheel. You don’t need to be angry about it or hold a grudge. Forget the pain of the slander, but remember the slanderer.

If you don’t deliver the punishment deserved, the next person will be adversely affected because the misbehaving party hasn’t learned to behave.

Let’s think of some things men do in a relationship, which deserve punishment but are often forgiven:

  1. Checking out or flirting with other women in your presence.
  2. Slobbery, including not putting away his toys, leaving dishes around, creating dirty laundry mountains, and expecting accolades for a loud belch or fart.
  3. Forgetting important dates.
  4. Communicating with an ex.
  5. Creating an orgasm tally imbalance.

You can’t forgive these grievances, my sweet, or they will continue and grow more severe.

This applies to platonic relationships as well. On my twice-weekly commute into the city, often I am stuck next to a man who has some sort of problem with his nose. This, mind you, has been going on for months. He sits near me, takes out his iPhone, tilts his head down, and begins playing some pointless game. Since his head is tilted down and he has a leaky noggin, he performs a snot symphony for the entire forty-minute ride.

*Sniff, Snort, Sniff, Gulp, Sniff, Cough, Snort*

I’m not allowed to euthanize him, oh, but I fantasize about it–sliding that needle into a vein while he sniffs and whimpers. One final gurgle, then off to the glue factory for Mr. Boogers.

Since his parents, friends, and (horrors, if such things exist) ex-girlfriends have forgiven this behavior instead of stuffing cotton up his nose and swatting him with a rolled-up magazine, we, the disgusted commuters, must endure this nonsense.

Another example close to my black heart is the way some fellow authors behave. As authors, we consume a large share of written media to see what is selling and why. It guides our work. Do we enjoy everything we read? Hell no. When we dislike something we read, we need to make the following distinction:

  1. Does this suck because I don’t enjoy this subject, whereas certainly others would?
  2. Does this suck because it is horribly written?

In scenario #1, it’s best to stop reading and move on without providing feedback or negative reviews, because authors, of all people, should realize that authors need to eat, and it’s plain wrong to hurt sales due to a mismatch in tastes or preferences.

In scenario #2, it’s best to provide PRIVATE feedback and suggestions directly to the author. Again, a bad review won’t help correct the problem; it will just create hatred and embarrassment.

A fellow author has left a nasty review on one of my books. (See Rachel’s review here.) If I forgive her, she’ll do this to others. Instead, I’m going to read one of her books (already started and it is god-awful, as expected) and trash the shit out of her in a public forum by posting a one-star review. I also have a social media army I can enlist to assist me in the defensive assault. I hope she learns that her bad behavior must cease.

So, the next time someone offends you, pause to see if the offense was accidental. If it was intentional, don’t forgive–punish.