Flicking trolls

Earlier I wrote about being stunned that trolls were sending me hate emails about my books, and that I was in retreat. Here’s how I imagine those folks look:

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(Ok, technically this is an orc from a game called 40k. And if you want to know the difference between a troll and an orc, I have a ten-year-old who will tell you more than you ever, ever wanted to know.)

However, it’s amazing how things can change in a few days. You see, I’ve had an epiphany. A few epiphanies, actually. (And I so enjoy writing that word, you’re going to see it a few more times.)

Let me back up a bit here; when I got trolled last week I was already feeling particularly vulnerable. A number of financial and family worries had sent my anxiety bubbling out my ears. The troll attack was the last straw, and I retreated.

For the next several days I fretted about many things, but I also prayed. I’m a firm believer in Heavenly help, and it came.

No, lightning didn’t strike my trolls (guess I didn’t have enough faith when I asked for that), but instead of destroying my irritants, God calmed my anxieties and gently gave me ideas of how to circumvent the detractors.

One of my first epiphanies occurred when I thought about authors whose works I don’t particularly care for. For example (and I’m taking cover right now), I didn’t like The Hunger Games. I fact, I didn’t finish reading it.

Now, let me say right now that I admire Suzanne Collins. I’ve read interviews with her, I’m happy for her success, and I think the message she’s sending through her writing is timely. She’s done wonderful things, and the way she ended her series is almost brutal but bravely honest. Life doesn’t always have a happy ending. Deal with it. That’s amazing writing.

I just find her books unreadable. Simply not my style.

However, I would never go on to Amazon and state my opinions in a review (and I’ve learned to not read reviews of my books on Amazon anymore, either), and I especially wouldn’t go to her website and rant to her personally about my opinion of her failings, because my opinion really doesn’t matter. The fact that she didn’t meet my narrow, individualized expectations is my problem, not hers . . .

Ah! Epiphany #1!

Why should she care about some middle-aged mom in the Rocky Mountains? She shouldn’t! Suzanne Collins—write what makes YOU happy, in a manner that brings YOU satisfaction. If I want to be part of that, then that’s my choice. Otherwise, I’m good just watching the movies (which I do enjoy, by the way).

And also by the way, I’m taking that little speech and applying it to myself. I write what I want to read.
If you want to read it as well, great!
If not, great!

I’ve also wanted to rewrite parts of Book 1, and I decided now was as good as time as any (and yes, I’m also working on Book 4). This week I started to make Forest tighter and cleaner, and I’m rearranged some of the earlier chapters. I headed into this with a critical eye, but after half an hour I found myself genuinely happy.
I like this story!
Scratch that—I LOVE this story!
So why I am letting ugly trolls take that joy away?

That led to my second epiphany which came during my English 1010 class. My students were giving their presentations on their research papers, and one student addressed cyberbullying. It was then that I felt a gentle flick against my mind, not a slap upside the head as God often does to get my attention. This time He was saying kindly, because of my vulnerable state, “Listen up, daughter.” Everything my student described about cyberbullying applied to my situation. When she got to the part of “How to deal with it,” I already knew.

Epiphany #2: Flick the trolls!

Read that carefully, because I did NOT intend to write something more graphic (although in a different font the “l” and “i” blend together in a fitting manner).

Here’s a different perspective of the earlier troll.

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He’s not so big now, is he? In fact, I can easily flick him away (but I won’t, because this is one of the beloved “hideous plastic creatures” my husband and sons have painstakingly painted and stored away in boxes to play with once a year, and if anything happens to these critters, such as losing a glued-on arm, tears are shed).

(Males can be weird.)

So I’m taking the advice so many of you kindly sent. Friends and readers have written this past week commiserating with me and asking if I really wanted to remove my books from Amazon.

And you know what? I don’t.

No, they’re not perfect—nothing ever will be—but I am inching closer to excellence as I revise book 1. And if you don’t like it, fine. Put it down and go read something else. I have a copy of The Hunger Games I can give you. (But don’t touch my DVDs.)

And if you want to troll me, I’ve got new perspective on that as well. I’ll ignore you by flicking you away, and I’ll continue on happily, because I care less about you than you care about bullying me.

I’ve been blessed to find my inner Teddy Roosevelt who doesn’t care about the critics (trolls, bullies), and I’ve also found a glorious little button called “delete.”

It must be magical because just that easily, trolls are banished and joy returns.

 

Look at him . . . not knowing what to do next. Heh-heh-heh.

 

Quitting, in a way

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points . . . where the doer of deeds could have done them better . . .
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena . . . who errs, who comes short again and again—” 

Well, I’m no Teddy Roosevelt, the man who said these marvelous words. (Although I’ve practiced that facial expression, and scared my toddler.)

I’m just a middle-aged mom who’s skin is far too thin.
So I’m quitting.
In a way.

Life doesn't always want to be grabbed by the horns.

I’m not a person who does well with attention; praise, criticism—it all makes me exceptionally uncomfortable.
Especially criticism.

Yes, I’m overly sensitive (I don’t think that’s a particularly bad thing) and yes, I take things personally. So when I receive criticism—personal jabs about my writing, my editing (yes, it’s very, very hard to edit oneself—I admit it) and my personal views—I kind of break down.

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

I’m a wimp. While I’ve received a lot of wonderful and encouraging feedback on my book series, the few harsh comments cut me to the core and drain away my joy. That they appear on my screen where my books came to be—and that those barbs are sent to me directly via my blog and email—feels like a double gut punch.

I love writing. Well, at least, I used to.

I never claimed to be an “author”; that title connotes a sense of accomplishment.
I’m merely a drafter and dabbler. I wrote the books I wanted to read, and I fully acknowledge that others may not like them. There are a lot of popular books I’ve haven’t liked over the years, but it never occurred to me to directly bash those writers; I just accepted that I have different tastes than the authors, and let them be. (Especially if I got their books for free.)

I’ve read blogs on about how to deal with negative feedback, and all of them say to ignore it (easier said than done) or to realize it’s a criticism of my work, not me. But that’s never made sense to me: what I write is me. A stinging gibe stings me personally, not just my work. We are one and the same. I wished the compliments I’ve received could overwhelm the negativity, but I’m just not that mature yet, I guess. (I’ve heard that people get braver after 50; I hope that’s true.)

Even the most ambitious little pebble will never grow up to be a big rock.

I still love my books and my characters. They will continue on, but not on Amazon. Once my commitment with the Kindle program is over, I’m going to “de-publish” my books, probably in June. But I will still keep them available on my website, as free pdf downloads. I’ll rework books 1, 2, and 3, and I’ll finish book 4, as well as books 5, 6, 7, and 8, and release all of them here—quietly and safely—over the next few years.

Maybe someday I’ll find my bravery again and put my heart out there again on a stick for the fire squads. Maybe I’ll even find the funds for an editor, or even try to get my books published “for real.”The less you stand out, the longer you'll last.

But not right now. Financial needs also require me to stop pretending that I can make any money as a writer, and find instead more practical ways to pay a few bills. I’ll continue drafting and revising on the side, and I’ll post here about future releases.

In the meantime, forgive me for not being as brave as Perrin, or as outspoken as Mahrree, or as daring as Teddy Roosevelt:

“ . . . there is no effort without error and shortcoming . . . and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails greatly.”

Who wants to fail?
And greatly?
And publicly?
I ain’t no Teddy Roosevelt, so I’m going to go into hiding now. (Thanks to despair.com for the fantastic illustrations. Click on the images to order these posters.)

When your best just isn't good enough.

Audiobook downloads, and thank you very much!

The first three chapters of The Forest at the Edge of the World are available here as audiobook mp3 downloads. I’ll keep trying to upload a chapter or two a week so you can hear my lovely Fran Drescher impersonations.  (No, it’s not really that bad, but with my hay fever kicking in, the next few chapters just might be.)

I also want to thank all of you for your support during my past free download week. I was just this much shy (can you see my fingers pinching together?) of reaching 11,000 downloads, which was about 9,000 more than I was expecting. A great week, so thank you for helping to get the word out!