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Found 9 results

  1. The BIG and Debut James Matthews Q&A Ask me Anything! Plus, whats planned and coming soon! Thank you very much for all your questions, whether through GA or e-mail. I got 13 in all (lucky for some) and am happy to answer all of them. So you should all have an answer. I am not leaving any out. Lol. Some I will keep short as they do not really need explaining. Some do. After the Q&A, I will be giving you my rough plans story-wise for those who follow and read my work. Moreover, a brief rundown of how my life concerning getting writing done is going at the moment. So let's kick off with the Q&A. So Derry654 asked? Do you enjoy writing sex scenes, and do they turn you on? This one made me chuckle. Erm, no, I actually don't like writing sex scenes in my books as sometimes I make myself blush, and my later work has fewer of them, you'll probably notice? It's funny, but when I first started writing, I had the impression that all gay stories should have steamy sex scenes in them, but I have realised that this is not the case if it's a decent story. You'll find some beginner Authors jam pack their stories with graphic scenes of sex, rape and bondage because they think it will gain them a gold star. To me, it's a turn off because you can tell the writer has tried to bulk fill a story with it, pushing away quality dialogue and scene-setting that could be there instead. And sex books are 2 a penny all over the internet. Also, a sex scene in a story has to be done well and explained in detail. I believe this because sex is very personal, and intimacy is harder to get across to a reader than, say, a hug or a fight. But details are good only if you want to have the scene front and centre; however, sometimes a sex scene can be off-page and just mentioned, with it having an equal impact on the storyline and the reader. I don't think rape should ever be glorified in a book. By all means, write a rape scene if you must (I have), but only write what is necessary to get the scene across to the reader. I've read rape scenes in stories where it is obvious the Author is getting satisfaction out of that part of the scene and dialogue, and that says to me quite a lot about the writer behind the book. When writing romance (As I do), it is obvious that a couple, newly met as such, will eventually venture between the sheets, but too much sex in a book is like too much dessert; it's sickly, and you soon tire of it. I personally think more than three or four full-on sex scenes in a novel is sufficient if you must add them at all. Writing about love and friendship is more valuable per word than sex. Do I get turned on by my own writing of sex scenes? Hmm, well, not when I am typing them in during my writing. It had been known once I read the chapter back to stir some... feelings? Well, you get the picture, ConnarKelp asked How old are you? I am 34. Which is actually my actual age. I lied about it when I first joined GA as I wanted readers to think I was older, so I was taken more seriously as a writer. Stupid, really, but I was new to authoring so, I hope I can be forgiven? Del Thomson asked. What is your favourite novel you have written, and which one are you most proud of? Okay, So I think my favourite novel I wrote is actually the Lad from Castle Bay Down. It was one of my last (Classic pre-2016) novels. I like it the most because I read it back to myself and thought the style was clear, fresh, and a bit DomLuka(ish). He was an Author I really respected, always writing rich Characters and keeping his readers wanting more. The Lad From Castlebay Down, I think, was the only novel I really enjoyed writing from start to finish. As in, there was no writers block with it. I was knocking out thousands of words a day, and my fingers could not keep up with my brain - I completed that book (pre-edited) in less than 2 weeks. So yeah, that one. And The book I will always be most proud of is Puppy For Sale. That was an epic challenge for me as much of the story was written while I was suffering from bad headaches and had some personal issues I was dealing with family-wise. Some of that emotion is probably there in the book. I often think of Puppy for Sale as my version of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album. It's often the case you can produce some of your best work at some of the shittest periods in your life. Plus, at over 180k words (I think), it's my longest book. Margrim asked I was wondering if you tend to have other stories completed or almost completed before you begin to publish them, or whether you are just a few chapters ahead? I'm impressed with how quickly you manage to get new chapters completed if that's the case! Also, do you tend to write from a fairly detailed outline or keep it simple and let the characters take you off on unexpected tangents? Some might know I stopped writing in late 2016. It was an awful year for me depression wise, and I just didn't feel I had anything left to write about. Most of my work was left in raw, unedited format on an old hard drive. So yes, I had lots of stories completed, but when I left GA, Castle Roland and shut down my own site, I binned everything on the net. So all I had left was unedited copies which had to be made right again from scratch. So what you are seeing on the GA schedule is mainly finished and what I call my "Classics", which were written between 2013 and 2016. In answer to your question about how far ahead I am. I don't like to write from laptop to publish because I want to have a few chapters in the bank (as it were) so I can make sure continuity and timelines are correct. I often see other authors on GA do this, and I think it takes out some of the quality in their stories as you can see the words are coming straight from their head onto the site, and it shows. I mean, I am an amateur writer, so maybe that opinion is invalid or harsh, seeing as I don't have a degree in English or Literature, but I do think you need to keep a tight leash on your timelines and plots to make them come out the best. I can't understand people who write 700-word chapters? What the hell is that all about? A chapter is there for an author to move the story on - to change direction or open a new plot. How can you move stories on every 700 words? I think it's strange, but it's an opinion. Just put bloody page breaks in and crack on. There is one Author who does this constantly. One chapter was just 460 words. Man, Bang out a 15000 worder and let the reader have something to enjoy!! (I'm getting off my soapbox now. In answer to your second question Mawgrim, I have an arc in mind and a rough beginning. I am useless at endings, as some readers will testify to me in the comments. In some novels, I wrap up really well, and in some, I leave a few things not explained. Endlings are a weakness in my writing skills, I think. But before I start a new project, I can basically read off the first chapter in my head word for word before I have even written it, then have an arc in mind and then fuck the ending up, hahaha. One more thing to mention I think that is important to your question. It has been known for me to bin five or six chapters completely and re-write them. This happened in The Saturday Boy. I read it back and thought it was bland. When I get those periods, I stop writing for a couple of weeks because I know the quality is not there, and I am running low on imagination juice. But usually, after a break, I can sit back down, and it all comes flowing again. Hans asked, Who are your editors, and how do you make such great chapters. *Blushes* Thank you, that's sweet of you to say. Well, I have had many editors over the years. Male, female, straight, gay, old and young. Most have taught me a hell of a lot. A couple were pretty useless and clearly not fit to offer services as editors. But each brought their own ideas, styles and advice to my books. Really though, the best ones were the ones who tore my work to pieces line by line and pushed me hard to be more creative in my styling and grammar. At first, I got distraught with this and took it as a personal attack on my work. In fact, I told one of my editors to go fuck themselves, and how dare they pull my writing to pieces. But they did it because it was shit I later accepted, not because they were being nasty as I took it at the time. These days I enjoy criticism much more than praise because I want to improve. Plus, now I am in SUCH A BETTER PLACE mentally, I can deal with negativity a lot better. So right now, I use a triple lock system that consists of a self-designed spelling spotter (top secret, haha. it Took me 3 months to build). I also use another piece of software I paid for, and I have a human, hahaha. The human has requested to remain anonymous, but each chapter goes to them after I have run it through my own self-editing (I do self-edit now too) and software, and then I get it back 24 hours later to be published. It should be (almost) error-free by this time, but this is not a perfect system, and I am still caught out with a few errors here and there. But, the difference from my early work to something like Him in the Dust is astounding. Sam S asked. Why did you leave GA? I debated whether I should answer this one as I am under certain terms of not talking about certain things. But I did say I would be honest and answer all questions that came my way. All I can really say is that I was at a low point in my life and decided that as well as stopping writing, I would leave the site too after a disagreement here on GA. It's all in the past now, and I am here to write and write alone. Any community, cyber or in real society has politics, and people disagree and have strong opinions on things, me included, but it's right that the purpose of GA is to publish and read stories. Nothing more, nothing less. As I mentioned, I am in a much better place now, and I am happy to be here again, uploading my work again and writing new material. MarkB (My beta Reader) asked Do you notice any style changes yourself between your writing then and now? Wow, Okay, here goes... I started reading gay fiction in about 2012, I think. I was a latecomer, not really knowing that it existed online. Embarrassingly enough, I used to just read the pure sex stories to get off, hahaha. But then I found nifty and spotted some gems in there. I think the first real story I read that was not all about sex was caring for Cody. Dunno where that is now, but yeah, that was the first. Then I thought about writing something myself. I Didn't have a clue where to start, how to write correctly, where the little bits of grammar icons and stuff went. All I knew about was full stops and commas. So I joined GA (the first time) in early 2015, I believe and met a guy called R***** (Current GA member). And I wrote my first story - For Everything You Are, and he agreed to edit it. I sent him the first chapter, and he basically tore it to shreds. I was angry, hurt and almost told him to fuck off. Because I saw it as an attack on my efforts rather than him trying to help me. Over time he taught me the basics of where stuff should go and how good flowing sentences should be placed. I finished that story with his help and placed it on Gay Authors, and it got a good following and decent reviews. The Original is still on my hard drive, and I have read it back in its raw form - It's awful! So I think that is the long version of answering your question. No, my style has not changed. I'm just a little more seasoned and open to criticism. I am a fond user of the 3 dots to show real thought or a pause (some hate it... I love it :P) So you'll always know a story by me, cos it's got loads of them in it...right? Lol. I want people to be honest about my work. People just saying authors write good stories does not help any writer. Sometimes a chapter does need to be torn to shreds. Some chapters... and even stories need to be binned completely. I have about 25-30 stories that I have written which will probably never see the light of day because either the plots are uninteresting, or they are in too much of a state to put right. A few to mention - Wotherine (A WWII novel) - Our Boat Our Home (Another WWII novel about a gay captain of a German U Boat) - Jordan and the Grease Monkey (Straight forward drama with loads of drug use) - Take me Out (Romance between an Israeli and Palestinian guy) Just a few there - all crap! If you're also interested (And you might be bored by now haha), All my stories have acted as therapy for me. Growing up as a gay kid in the very late '90s was hell where I lived. ALL of my stories address a little bit of me in them. (at least the 2014-2016 ones do). Most of my characters are based on real people I knew/know, and some of the plots in my stories which deal with mental health are me in disguise. The names of some people I really knew. And you may have noticed I am pretty clued up with prescription medication and drug use storylines. This is also from experience and a little bit of me. Over the years of writing, it has allowed me (in a way) to put down on paper and re-live those dark days of being a young gay kid, and it's helped me to bury the past. Some people have asked who I am in all of my stories, and the truth is the closest Character I have written who is essentially me is Joey from The Saturday Boy. His job as a kid, personality, obsessions, depression and insecurity was me. So yeah, There we are - Joey is James Matthews And I don't think I have ever told anyone that. Claire asked, Nealy, all your stories have dealt with depression, drugs, violence and suicide. How do they reflect in your real-life, and are you talking from experience as they seem really accurate and detailed descriptions? Thanks, Claire. So I get asked this a lot privately. I think with the depression thing, I have a lot of experience with it. Anxiety, panic attacks, stress, depression. You name it, I have suffered with it. My parents did too, which is why I think I am wired up this way. So In my stories, I can always give an accurate account and storyline of what something like, say, a panic attack feels like. Or what it is like to feel so low you want to sleep all day and not face the world. As many young people have, I have tried a few class A drugs (I think Class A is UK speak, perhaps?)Anyway, E, Cocaine, Ket I've done. But never injected anything into my body. I am not a pot smoker, and I do not take drugs anymore apart from what the doctor prescribes me. If I need to include a scene in one of my stories, as I did with a meth scene, I will research it from a few sources on the internet and then be confident enough to write it down in the chapter. I feel really passionate that if you write about something that you don't know about? Do your fucking research. Nothing irritates me more when I see Authors on here or elsewhere writing about a topic they don't know anything about or have not bothered to research. It makes them look stupid and is lazy. I read a story where one guy said the Titanic was 800 metres long. I mean, she was a big girl but come on, wake up! Haha. (as I write and no cheating, I think it was about 270-280) I might be out, but I would have just looked that up. Lastly, I have been through some dark days but never thought about suicide. It's just not in my DNA to think like that. Sure I feel fucking low at times. But life is always worth living. Plus, as I was told, you need the bad times to appreciate the good times. That's why we have weekdays and weekends. It's a good point. Fatboy asked. Do you have a Partner? Yes, I do. I stole him out of a nightclub when we were both drunk one night. That was 15 years ago. Snowcat31 asked, are any of your characters based on you, or have you got a character that most resembles you? Wow, I got asked this really recently, and I can't remember who I wrote back to answer it for the life of me. Well, yes, there is someone who I wrote who is basically me as a teenager, and that is Joey from The Saturday Boy. I did the same job as him in my grandparents' pub as a kid, and I also had the same sort of personality. So yes, everyone knows now, Joey is James Matthews. I even had a friend do what Shaun eventually did, but my friend was female (Was careful there to avoid spoilers, haha) Alexa1991 asked You look really straight in your picture. Are you gay in real life? Okay, firstly, Alexa, you must drive your friends nuts when you go around their houses. Lol. And Now you question. Hmm, sort of mildly confused by it. Yes, I am gay in real life, and I am sorry I am not waving a limp hand at you. It's a bit of a silly question, but I did say I would answer all of them. But just to tag on to your question. Someone also said I don't look like a guy who writes gay love stories. What is it with you guys? Hahaha. HairyBeary asked, DO you write for yourself or your readers and do you think you have enough content to knock Comicality off the top spot for words written? Wow, that is a great question. Well, 2, actually. Okay, so What I have written in the past, like 2013-2016, was TOTALLY for me, exclusively. Those books were my window to resting some dark days of being a young gay guy as I mentioned in MarkB's answer. But these days, I write for both relaxation (for myself obviously) and for you guys, my readers. So it's a balance now, which is better, I think. When I was writing for me, I wrote so fast because I was trying to expose something… some feeling or experience, and I used to get frustrated because I could not get my fingers to write quick enough as my brain literally spewed out these memories I had from those times. But now I am much more leisurely when I write. I'm not really someone who likes to write so many words at a particular time. Some days I will write 16k-18k words, and others (more frequently) will be more like 3k-4k. Sometimes I even write while watching TV, and I'll just doodle down a rough chapter for a story. Then when I have some quiet time, I ask myself what the fuck was that shit I wrote and go back and do it again, or at least give it an almighty adjustment. This last one left no name, and So will go by the first part of your e-mail to protect your privacy. So Timebox asked. You are from the UK, yes? So why do you use UK and American words when writing. Would it not be better to stick to one or the other? It's a good question. I think that kind of all started because I got sensitive to a couple of e-mails I got when I started writing, saying that people didn't understand my strange wordings they said in their own ways. But you have a point. I do use both, and I try to use the Americanisms more so when I know my native audience will understand them as well, rather than using a UK work and an American to be like, Whaaaaaat? All people in the UK will know what a Sidewalk is, a Mall, or an Elevator. But if I started using words like Loo, nappy, kip, lorry, Then I find you start to have problems. But UK people know what a bathroom is, a Diaper, a small nap, and a truck. So there you go, that's my reasoning. But this presents its own problems when dealing with dialogue from a 17-year-old British male. To make them sound authentically 17 and, more importantly, British, you need to be careful how much "adultspeak" words and Americanisms you throw in. It's a balance in a nutshell. Well, that's all of the folks. Thanks so much for your e-mails and Pvt messages. That was pretty fun. I hope I answered every one with enough information to satisfy. So Schedule? Well, I will be taking a short break for around 2 weeks while I go off with my partner on a well needed post-Covid Holiday (vacation). So there will be a few chapters pre-added to auto-publish but not enough for the whole two weeks, so I will go a bit quiet on the publishing side for a while from Monday onwards (that's the 13th of September) Whats's Coming up? Right Now: The Lad from Castle Bay Down Coming Soon: For Everything, For Everything 2, Coming along at some point: - Puppy for Sale 3 in early stages a few chapters written in the first draft - The Saturday Boy - Roman (A prequel to TSB written in 2018 all about Roman's life before the events of Joey and Co's adventures. never published - It's an unedited mess.) Sorting that mess to get ready. - Him In the Dust 2, I had abandoned this, but over 20 people have contacted me by various means to ask me to finish it. So I feel like I should. I know. Only dickheads abandon stories readers have invested in. Qu….. Oh, sorry, never mind. - Purity 2 - exists in my head only right now.
  2. Comicality

    Feedback

    There's an old proverb out there, and I'll have to paraphrase as I don't remember it word for word...but it says 'the Sun doesn't enjoy its own brightness. The river doesn't drink its own water. The tree doesn't eat its own fruit. And living without giving...isn't really living.' As a writer, I really do believe in that. Being able to create something out of nothing and then share it with people who really enjoy and relate to it brings me a lot of joy. That's my way of giving to my readers. And the more they love what I do, the more inspired I am to give them even more. But...there is one part of the process that I have to admit that I truly FAIL at when it comes to giving something back. And that's why I thought it was important to approach the topic this time around. So, let's talk about feedback. When it comes to writing, it takes a lot of thought, time, and energy to pull off a completed story. Or even a single chapter, for those of us who write in a 'serial' fashion. It can be emotionally draining at times. But every now and then, the payoff for all of your hard work is more than worth it. Sometimes I get an email from a new reader finding my work for the first time, a dedicated reader who's been with me for years, or some young teen who's still struggling to find their place in the world...and their love and support really touches me. I feel a wave of satisfaction just knowing that my words were able to reach out into the ether somewhere so other people can have access to it...and they took the time to reach back to say thank you. There's no greater reward than that, in my opinion. No amount of money could ever compete with that feeling of connecting with someone else's humanity, simply by expressing my own. However, I do write an awful lot...and I don't read nearly as much as I used to. I simply don't have enough hours in the day to catch up anymore. And one thing that I definitely want to get better at is giving praise to my fellow authors when they totally deserve it. I have read some really amazing stories on nifty and here on GayAuthors and on Jeffsfort...but I haven't really taken the time to send a personal email with my comments about the kind of genius that these authors are putting out on a regular basis. I mean, when it comes to well written stories, plots, and characters...I'm a fan too! I don't get to talk to people individually often, so I seem a bit isolated at times. And I don't want to play 'favorites' where I'm commenting on this person's story, and not that person's story. But I really hope to correct that in the near future and give more feedback when I'm enjoying someone else's hard work. I definitely do what I can to promote as many talented authors as I can and give them the attention they deserve, but I think I could take a more personal approach and send more comments and reviews when given the opportunity. I think it's important. You see...we, as readers, are the cheering section. We are the fuel that a writer uses to keep going and maintain interest in the stories we love and get all wrapped up in. Without our input, some of the best stories that we've ever read could end up fizzling out right before our eyes. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've had people talk to me in email, or post on the Comicality Library, trying to get them to tell their story and share their experiences and really GO for it...but gave up on their projects due to a lack of response from readers. And, believe it or not, I've even had readers come back to contact me months or even years later, asking about 'that one story' and what happened to the author. Well...you ignored him/her the whole time they were writing, so what do you think happened? You're the fuel. You didn't take a few seconds to let them know what you felt about their story...so they quit. And now...we all lose out. Hehehe! What did they expect? Again, I'm definitely guilty of doing this myself. And I need to get better at giving my thoughts when I read something that I think is awesome. Or even to give some constructive criticism when I think the story has major potential, and can be even better if the author tweaks a few details here and there. It really helps an author out to know that they have an audience that's paying attention and appreciating the effort that they put in. I speak from experience when I say...sometimes it just plain sucks to look at one of my chapters on GA, and in the first 48 hours...it has 300 views...and 2 comments. I mean, I appreciate the 2 comments, for sure...but that means that 298 people RUSHED over to read the story the second they got the notice (They were THAT hyped for it!), but when they finished? No comments. No hitting the 'like' button. No email. Nothing. Just 'gimmee gimmee gimme' and 'gobble gobble gobble' and then they roll over and go to sleep. Gee, thanks. Glad that at least ONE of us got something out of this! Hehehe! Imagine performing on stage in front of crowd of 300 people, dancing or acting or playing music, whatever...and when you were done...TWO people clapped for you. Two...out of 300. Yeah, sometimes that's what it feels like. And authors need that from time to time. Nothing much. Nobody is asking you to share your life story or write complicated stanzas of poetry. No one is asking you to get down on your knees and bow and scrape at the feet of a writer, or spit shine their shoes from a place of total submission. Just be, like...'Hey, I really liked this story. Thanks.' Or, 'Wow. That was cool.' That's it. Thirty seconds worth of typing at the end of a chapter can really do WONDERS for the writers that you truly love. Don't just think it in your head. Let them know. Say it out loud. Leave a comment. Hit a 'like' button. It's an important part of the symbiotic relationship between writers and readers. Don't be greedy and make this a one way street. We should all feel compelled to do our part, you know? I want to give an example that may help to demonstrate the feeling that an author gets when people are actually participating in the process of sharing their work and expressing themselves in the hopes to be understood and appreciated... Over the past year, since the pandemic and all, going out to movie theaters hasn't really been much of an option for a majority of us. And that sucks, because I still love going out to the movies. I love the 'energy' that's provided by being in a crowded room with people who came out to have a good time. I love laughing with them, cheering with them, gasping with them, jumping during horror flicks with them...it's so different than just watching a movie at home on a streaming service. Or, even worse, watching it by myself on my laptop screen. I think this is the best way to describe the difference between a writer having an audience and a constantly participating source of feedback, over a writer who keeps putting out material without much outside support. This is the final battle scene from the "Avengers: Endgame" movie (Spoiler warning, if you haven't seen it yet), and it is one of THE most badass, most amazing, most hardcore cinematic superhero throw down scenes in movie history! Watching this in the theater for the first time, I couldn't even mentally process what the hell I had just seen! Jaw dropping! Jesus! Go ahead and click the video below, even if you've seen it before, and just imagine what it must have been like, and how much hard work went in to filming, choregraphing, and creating, this whole scene! Editing it, adding the soundtrack, incorporating all of the characters, and just making it such a mind-blowing experience for everybody watching!!! When anyone pours that much heart and passion into their craft...they want us to notice. I mean, wouldn't you? It's not an ego thing. Creative minds just don't want their efforts to feel so...thankless. You know? And if you're getting a million dollar paycheck to write stories online, well...then at least you have a decent incentive to keep writing more. But if it's just a hobby or something that a writer does to clear the cobwebs out of their head on occasion and share it with the rest of us? The ONLY thanks they get comes from us actually saying the words 'thank you'. That's it. Nothing else. We're the only thing keeping those fires burning. And if we don't openly support what we love...it withers on the vine. Imagine how many awesome stories we've all missed out on because we didn't say something to the author when we had the chance to. I've read some really amazing stories that got abandoned because nobody stepped up to support them. And, like I said, that's a loss for all of us. Reading these stories is like tending a garden. If you feed it, fertilize it, cultivate it...it'll grow. If you neglect it and never pay it any attention...well, what did you expect the result to be? Support the things that you love! Why not? Too tired? Too busy? Too shy? What is it? What's the excuse? Do you have any idea how many gay story websites were out there when I first started writing? I couldn't even keep track of the number. And I'm one of very few sites that has outlasted them all over the years. And NONE of that could have been possible if it wasn't for the comments and friendships that I've made since then. I would have burned out a decade ago if it weren't for the support of my readers, and I try to give thanks to them every chance I get. And I think ALL writers need that kind of encouragement when the have the courage to bare their feelings to an invisible audience and are looking for some kind of validation for their efforts. Now, I want to show you the SAME "Avengers: Endgame" clip from above...but this was filmed in a theater on opening night. This is with the audience's participation, experiencing this epic moment for the very first time. This is what it feels like when a writer puts their heart and soul into their work, and actually gets to see and hear what the reaction is to their efforts... Hehehe, are you smiling? I mean, do you see the difference in the intensity of the energy provided by having an audience that is really enjoying themselves? Compare that to what you felt in the first video. That's all our favorite authors want from us. Nobody puts in all of that hard work without expecting at least a little bit of appreciation. And we are all working on our own projects, and that's totally understandable...but every once in a while...give someone a wink and a nod and a little applause for their efforts. Seriously. Imagine if only two or three people in that entire audience was openly having fun while everybody else was stubbornly remaining silent. Not as cool, is it? Bottom line, as readers, we are the messengers of appreciation to every writer who ever sat at their keyboard and created these fantasies for us to enjoy. And as fellow writers, we can consider ourselves colleagues, which has an even more meaningful impact. They deserve our attention. Where are the 'likes'? Where's the support? Where are the donations? Where are the comments? Where are the recommendations? We have time to read the stories, but suddenly don't have time to say thanks when we're finished? It's something that I definitely want to change about myself, and I hope I can bring some others into the trenches with me. Give a few ratings. Send a few emails. Spread the word to your friends. Because, when we stay silent, we end up discouraging the very people that we claim to love so much for their work from ever creating any more content for us ever again. And it's too late to complain when those talented writers have given up and moved on to other things. Our feedback gives writers the passion to keep going. It allows them to finish their projects, it gives them the confidence to stretch out and challenge themselves, and it is the best way to maintain our garden. So don't be stingy with your support. Give them some love. It doesn't have to be every day, or every month even...just...once in a while, send them a message to say, "Hey, thanks for the stories! I really enjoy them!" That's it. Don't let more talent go unnoticed and fade away because you couldn't find thirty seconds to say something positive about something they wrote. K? That's it for this round! Hope it gave you guys some food for thought! It certainly did for me, and I want to improve on giving comments more often myself. So, please don't think that I'm preaching! Hehehe! I'm probably more guilty than you are when it comes to giving feedback. But I'm working on it! Promise! Seezya soon!
  3. Before we start, if you're not a big fan of change or hate gamification elements, or think levels are some sort of offense to humanity, this topic is not meant for you. With that out of the way, for those of you that made it past the first paragraph either because you are interested in the topic in general or wondering what the hell I could be talking about... let's begin with history. When online communities first starting being a thing, they all started off with the most basic of all features, the post count. They added ranks based completely on the post count. That is, hit 200 posts and you are ranked X, get 400 and you are Y, get 500 and you are Z, oh and at 500, you can change your Member Title. That system still kind of exists, but we shut it off over a year ago except being able to set your member title. The replacement was Reputation, first based on Likes and then reactions. The software here allows for both positive and negative reputation scoring. We didn't do that long due to the 'review bomb' phenomenon. This system was an improvement over a "post count" only system as the post counts were easily abused by spam posting. The Reputation Levels are abstracted a layer from post count. I could spam post 50 times, and no one likes it, it leaves me at 0 reputation. Or I could write some insanely popular post that 50 people like and I get the 50 points of reputation. This was a big improvement in that it motivates some people to strive to post content that people react well to. (I'm obviously simplifying here, but this is what the entire social media industry is resting on. They need the people that make stuff and getting the dopamine hit when someone reacts well to it.) Marketing is tied into all this stuff too. A non-insignificant subset of people are driven by the 'gotta have it' mentality. If you ever want to red-pill yourself on how much you are manipulated by companies, read a persuasion or marketing book some time. This method also has it's downside as well. People always end of finding ways to use something in a way that the designers didn't intend or hadn't anticipated or thought wouldn't be an issue. Steve Jobs on iPhone 4's antenna issue and his infamous "Don't hold it that way!" response, as an example. Reactions are a one size fits all click. Whether it is a phenomenal 250,000 word novel posted on the system or "Good night", a 💗reaction is the same for both. Oops. I'm not sure about you, but I value the 250,000 word novel an author poured his heart and soul into a whole hell of a lot more than someone saying "good night" and getting 10 thumbs up for it. This brings us to the brand new Invision Community 4.6.0 Beta 2 that is testing right now. This is the third generation of Online Community Social Recognition and rewards. Post Counts are still there. Reputation is still there (and not changing, except reputation levels). With this version of the software, they are adding another abstraction layer. We can now target fairly specifically using a new accumulating value that they are calling Achievement Points. They have removed the old ranks from the system to base it completely on Achievement Points instead. Reputation, as I said, stays the same. You get 1 point for each reaction you get. The titles, all having to do with Scribes, are going to be dropped though. Reputation will just be a number without anything attached to it. The scribe titles will be recycled into the new Achievement Point based rankings. So now would be a good time in this to define some terms and how they work. Post Count - make a post on the site as a topic/reply/comment/blog/story/whatever and the post count goes up by 1. Reaction - When someone clicks the like or other reaction type to content you posted. This makes your Reputation number go up. (or down, if the member removes their reaction) Member Title - you set this in your profile and it shows up under your name when you post something Member Rank - Old version is no longer shown on site. New version will be deployed when we upgrade to 4.6.0 Achievement Points - Variable number of points rewarded for different actions on the site. example - making your first post. Posting a story review. Getting 10 reactions on a story review. Getting 10 Story reviews on your story. You'd get points for any of those events. We can set the number of points you get. Badges - Badges are little icons that you can get for specific actions (making a first post, signing in 7 days in a row, signing in 1 year after you've joined the site, posting a story in an anthology), for reaching a certain number of achievement points (500 points, Woot!), or they can be assigned manually by staff. For example, maybe you make an outstanding post and staff say "Wow! what a post! Here's a badge for being so cool" The above screenshot shows my profile on our test server. On the left you see member Rank (based on Achievement Point Total). on the right, you see some badges. You'll note they all say "Rare" on them. "Rare" is put on a badge if less than 5% of the people on the site have the badge. How things show up is going to shuffle about to, as they switch to a more graphical look on posts. Note that the rank is shown as an icon that overlays your avatar. Moderators have a little shield that does the same. Post count is back under your name as a summary (the 1.5k). Reputation is moved up into the hovercard when you mouse over an avatar. The member rank badge offers the visual indicator of reputation, as higher rank means you're actively involved in the community. Boy... that's a lot of run up. What we need feedback on is Ranks... achievement point values, badges and general approach.
  4. Imagine that you're standing in the middle of a crowd of your readers and fans that absolutely love the stories you write and appreciate the love and energy you put into every word. Every single one of those loyal readers has a giant feather...and they surround you, lightly teasing and fawning all over you with those feathers, day and night. It's just a good feeling, you know? Hehehe, and there might ten, or twenty, or fifty, or one hundred, of them...giving you nothing but good vibes the whole time. NOW...imagine that there is one person in that crowd...armed with a sharp, rusty, screwdriver. And that person runs up and STABS you right in the gut with it! Hehehe, it doesn't matter how many fans you've got, or how many feathers...that's impossible to ignore. It hurts! And sometimes it cancels out everything else, and all you can focus on is the pain. If you're one of those people...then welcome to 'Part 2' of the 'Giving/Getting Criticism' blog post! Oh yeah...it's our turn now! Last week, I gave FIVE rules that I thought critics should keep in mind when reviewing stories online. That includes us, as writing peers, as well. This week, we have five rules of our own to think about when it comes to receiving that criticism. Hopefully, it will help us look at things from a different perspective, keep up our enthusiasm for something we love doing, and possibly take some of the 'sting' out of getting a few less than favorable reviews. So let's dive right in, shall we? Writing can make you vulnerable sometimes. You may not even realize how much emotion you pour into the words you write on a screen. Feelings and memories and personal beliefs...desires, fantasies, hopes, and dreams. And when you're done, you've actually given birth to something that didn't exist before. You created something out of nothing, and it is so tempting to love that work unconditionally, no matter what anybody says about it. Don't feel guilty about that! It's a good thing. Be proud of what you done, and feel accomplished in knowing that there is a piece of you out there in the world that represents you as a writer and as a human being. However... There's loving your story like a parent loves their child when they come home with a bad report card...and there's loving your work like the mother in the movie "The Bad Seed"! Hehehe! (If you don't know the reference, ummm...Google it) Fans and critics are two sides of the same coin. You simply can't have one without the other. It doesn't work that way. If you open yourself up to praise, then you have to open yourself up to ridicule as well. Your armor can't be selective when it comes to this, but if you stay in the right frame of mind, not only can you avoid some of the hurt and frustration involved, but you might actually come out better for it in the end. K? So, here we go! These are my FIVE rules that every author and creator should take into account when getting criticism! Rule #1 - Shields up! I realize that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve in order to tell an honest and emotionally engaging story...but the criticism will come your way. Expect it. And brace yourself for the impact. I say this because it's easy to make any negative comments on your work seem MUCH worse than they actually are. No one wants to admit to being sensitive, but let's be real about this...we're sensitive. There's nothing wrong with that. The harder you work on something and the closer it is to your heart...the more difficult it is to take criticism on it. At least for me, it is. Now, I happened to grow up with an abusive father when I was very young, and it was a very painful experience for me, trying to write that into the "New Kid In School" storyline. I approached it, but as comments came in, I found that I wasn't ready yet. I was much too close to the source and couldn't handle the critics' comments on that part of the story. Comments that weren't anywhere near as harsh as I made them out to be, originally. So, some of you may notice that the abuse element was quickly written out of the storyline and never mentioned again. I took another shot at it when I wrote "Gone From Daylight", where it is a side story to the main plot. And it wasn't until "My Only Escape" that I felt prepared to tackle the issue head on. And that took practice and a thicker skin to really tell the truth about some of the things I went through and was able to distance myself enough from the story to accept any and all comments about what was going on. When you have a tight connection to what you're writing, criticism can hurt. But DON'T take every unfavorable comment as a personal attack! It's not personal. To your readers, it's just a fictional story. We have to keep that in mind when reading their reviews of it. This is where you need to have your armor in place so that you can listen to what your audience is telling you with an objective eye and avoid making it personal. Have your shields ready! There are going to be times when you need them. Believe me. Rule #2 - Shields down! Hehehe, remember when I told you to put your shields up JUST a few sentences ago? Yeah, well...you're going to need to take them down again! This is step two. The same vulnerability that you needed to tap into in order to create your story...you will need to tap into it again to accept the criticism you receive from readers, and improve as a writer. Again, this takes practice for some people. But there comes a time when we all have to be open to suggestions and try to see our own work through the eyes of the very people that we begged for validation in the first place. Hehehe, it's true! If you're asking for other people's opinion, expecting ONLY good news and nothing less than praise and worship...then you are in for a few harsh wake up calls in the future. And they won't be pretty. One thing that you DON'T want to do is argue! Never get defensive and try to bully your readers out of their opinion. That is only going to make you look like a jackass. I've been guilty of that myself, and I regret it. I've learned better. If you feel the need to explain something to the reader that you think they didn't understand, then that's fine. Do so calmly and let them know why you made the choices you made. Or clue them in on the fact that you have a master plan in the works, and (without giving spoilers) they'll see the need for your story design in the near future. That's fine. But don't get into a war with your readers over how they truly feel about what you wrote. You won't change their minds and they won't change yours. It's an eternal stalemate before it even begins. Instead, thank them for their feedback, and examine their comments to see if they've made any valid points that could possibly point out weaknesses in your work. Try to look at things from their point of view. You're trying to be the best writer that you can be, right? Well, that means taking responsibility for your own flaws and blind spots...and then working to correct them. Writing a story isn't easy. Step up to the challenge. Your readers won't settle for anything mediocre when they're reading, and we shouldn't either when we're writing. Rule #3 - DON'T get discouraged! Just because you get a few negative comments on a story, that doesn't mean that it's terrible and beyond redemption, or that you simply don't have the talent to write a story at all. As I've said in the past, the WORST reaction an author can get is 'silence'. If somebody is taking the time to comment and review your story at all, then you are already being given a gift that many writers never get. Even if the reaction is negative, you have captured the attention of a reader who took the time to let you know how they feel about something that you sat down and bravely put out there for public consumption. That's saying a lot. Appreciate that, and be grateful for the interaction. If you allow every negative comment to 'shut you down' in terms of continuing with the story...then you'll never get anything done, nor will you ever reach your full potential. Don't give up, don't put that story on the back burner or write it off as a loss, never going back to finish it. Have faith in your talent! Maybe you have a few stumbles along the way, but that's no reason to abandon the project. If you receive negative reviews on your work, make that an incentive to work even harder, as opposed to letting them beat you down. You had a dream to make your voice heard, and you're making that happen by expressing yourself your way. What's changed? Nothing. Keep writing. If you don't get them with 'this' story...you'll catch them with the next one. What's most important is that we all stay true to the stories that we want to tell. Do that, and we can conquer any criticism that comes our way. Always remember...we're creators. We create. Our job is already DONE before the critics ever get their hands on it. No apologies. K? Rule #4 - Never be afraid to retrace your steps. Look at your feedback, both positive and negative, and see if there are any similarities in what they are trying to tell you. Whether they say, "AWESOME story! I think the part with the vampire unicorn was a bit weird, but other than that...I LOVED it!" or they say, "I didn't really like it. Sorry. The vampire unicorn thing? WTF was THAT about?"...there's an 'agreement' happening there. Hehehe! Go back and see why both positive and negative comments are stuck on the same problematic elements of the story. What did you do there? Can you see where they're coming from? Are there parts of your story that might need some tweaking or possibly need to be removed from the story altogether? Everything you write isn't going to be perfect. Even if you work hard on editing and revising it a million times in an attempt to do so. The whole point is to have your personal expression translated into words and feelings that someone else can understand and relate to. If that connection is broken, and they're not getting it...then you might want to go back and try to find a more accessible way of getting your message across. It's important that we really LISTEN to what our critics are trying to say to us. And that can really SUCK sometimes! LOL! But don't block them out. Because the worst, most hurtful, comments you'll ever receive might just end up bringing out the best in you. They may leave a few scars along the way, but if you come out better for it...then they're worth it, right? Rule #5 - Know when to 'cash it' or 'trash it'! When you read criticisms of your work, and you've absorbed what it is what they had to say...you're left with a choice to make. Do I 'cash it'? And take their suggestions to heart in ways where I change up my way of writing and get better at doing what I do? Or do I 'trash it'? Because this person is just nitpicking and being rude without understanding how much time and effort I've put into making this story a reality? We have to know the difference. What you DON'T want to do is cave in every time somebody tells you that they don't like certain elements of your story! You can't please everybody. Don't try. You will drive yourself CRAZY trying to chase the needs and desires of your audience. STOP it! K? You had a story in your heart that you wanted to write and share with people online. Write that story. You don't HAVE TO accept every suggestion that you get from your critics. Stand up for your choices as an author. Maybe you killed off a beloved character, maybe your story took on a darker tone, maybe you threw a monkey wrench into a previously 'perfect' relationship...wherever your instincts guided you in your writing, GO there! Why not? Just because your audience doesn't agree with your artistic choices, that doesn't mean that you have to change them. It's your story. You can do whatever you want with it. Follow your gut feelings and put out a project that you can truly be proud of...criticism be damned! Me? I can be really 'wordy' in my stories sometimes. I make a lot of mechanical mistakes, formatting errors, continuity mishaps...I notice them a lot more now than I did when I was first writing my stories for the first time. So I'm still learning and challenging myself to do better with every chapter that I put out. But, despite it all, my goal is to maintain the flow and the emotion of every single story that I release. No excuses. And, while there are people who may not agree with some of the artistic choices that I've made, or the flawed presentation of the stories themselves...I hear your suggestions, but stick to my game plan. I'm stubborn like that. Hehehe! I think every creative mind reading this should be the same. Never let someone with a negative view on what you're written 'hijack' your story. It's YOURS! Own it. Both the good and the 'not so good'. Don't start kneeling down and surrendering to a group of people who think they know how to write the perfect story, and yet, all they do is instruct you on how to do all the hard work while they sit back and judge the end result. No. Stick up for your work. If you believe in it, and you think it truly represents your vision...then don't let anyone take that from you. Because there are people out there that will be overjoyed to read your story told YOUR way! Write for them instead. So...there we go! As writers and artists, opinions and criticism is going to be a constant part of our lives, and while critics need to have a certain sense of grace and etiquette when approaching us, we need to display a certain sense of grace and etiquette when accepting and dealing with them as well. We can be a part of the problem too, and every critic isn't trying to cause you any embarrassment or emotional damage by letting you know that your writing could use some work. Be grateful for the feedback you get, whether it's cheers or jeers. K? I hope this helps, you guys! Love you lots! And I'll be back with more soon! Later!
  5. There are two sides to every story. And two sides to the critical review of every story, once it gets released. Hopefully, with a little bit of insight on both sides of the equation, I can help both the critics and the creators deal with their, often vastly opposing, views on what a good story is, and what it isn't. This week, as the initial approach to a 'two-parter' blog post...we talk about giving and receiving criticism. Two sides of a coin that I don't think most people fully understand each other on these days. Especially on the internet, currently plagued by unprovoked rants and knee-jerk reactions. So I'm going to highlight FIVE points that I think both the critics and the creators need to recognize so we can all have a symbiotic relationship here. One that will ultimately be beneficial to both parties in the long run. Now, seeing as I am a self-proclaimed author and one of the 'creators' myself, I'm going to use my insufferable bias and start off with the 'giving criticism' part of this article! LOL! Because, for every single person that has ever told an artist of any genre that they can't take criticism and are way too sensitive (I can't *TELL* you how many times I've heard that lame argument over the years), they need to look back at what they actually said to this person to provoke that particular response. Seriously. Some critics have gotten way out of control, and they have not been given the green light to be as hurtful and as brutal as they want to be to a writer, simply because they are viewing the extremely hard work of an individual and feel entitled to something more than what they got. So...with a certain level of grace, let's start with the rules of engagement aimed at the critics... Rule #1 - Be constructive! For the love of God...have a point. When reviewing an author's work, think about what you didn't like about it, or what you thought could have been done better, and then give them your honest feelings on the matter. Simple, right? Not for some people. Don't just charge in like a wild rhino and send harsh comments like, "Your story sucks!" Not only is that not helpful in any way, but it's just plain rude and unnecessary and it makes you look like a total jackass. STOP IT! Take some time, read and absorb the writing as a whole, and find places where you think the story could use some improvement. What is it about the story that you didn't like? What turned you off? What questions did you have? What are some of the things that you felt were unfinished or needed more exploring. If you're taking the time to comment on somebody else's story, then we (as authors) should assume that you've put some actual thought into your critique, and have something more intelligent to offer than "I hated it, and you're not a competent writer because I didn't like it." Well...why? Explain in detail. If you can't make any valuable suggestions and articulate your distaste for said story...then you're not a critic. You're a 'heckler'. That's not the same thing. Also, along with the critique, feel free to mention what you liked about the story. You're taking the time to write a comment, right? Something about the story must have grabbed your attention and inspired you to review it. Make that a 3-dimensional part of your comment. "I liked the beginning, but I wasn't so crazy about how it ended." Then provide examples. While negative reviews might be hard to hear, this is the very purpose of feedback. "What did I do right? What did I do wrong?" Take some time and express yourself in your comments. It helps more than it hurts. Rule #2 - The words you use? They matter. I'm sure that we all recognize the usage of words and the tone of voice in everyday conversation, even online. Not just as writers, but as human beings in general. Sometimes, there are language barriers that occur, worldwide, but try to be aware of what you're saying and how you're saying it, if possible. Use TACT when talking about the work of an individual who has just poured their entire heart and soul into a project that was meant to entertain you. NOT to ruin your day, or to frustrate you to the point of throwing a mini tantrum, simply because you don't like what you see. When reading a story that you think has a few flaws in it, feel free to be honest and let the writer know what might have confused you, or what might have been inconsistent from one chapter to the next, or if someone was acting out of character. These are criticisms that can actually help an author realize his or her mistakes and get better at their craft. But, please take a moment to calm down. The theatrics aren't necessary to get your point across. Why are you so angry? It's not an author's job to write 'your' story. It's an author's job to write their own story, and then share it with you. That's it. If you refer to an author's plots and their stories and their characters as...'stupid', 'annoying', 'weak', 'frustrating', 'cliche', 'contrived', 'bullshit', 'ugly', or any one of a thousand other negative descriptions that you would NEVER want to hear about yourself if you overheard other people talking about you, personally...then expect a backlash. Why would you do that? Every artist bleeds openly on the screen and reveals who they truly are in their writing, whether they know it or not. So when you make those nasty comments and use the 'just being honest' shield as an excuse, I think that's a cowardly way to express yourself. You can be honest and direct without being an asshole. Take it EASY, for Christ's sake. It's a fictional online story. Never forget that there is an actual person bearing the brunt of the humiliating rant that you're putting out in public for the whole world to see. Maybe you get off on hurting people for no reason. I do not. Rule #3 - If you decide that you want to stop reading a story? If you decide to leave? Leave SILENTLY! Please, pay attention, because this is something that needs to be addressed. I'm SO sick of it, and I'm sure a lot of authors can agree with me on this one, even if there's a large group of readers out there who can't see it for themselves. If a story that you're reading isn't going the way you planned...if you feel the writing has gone downhill, or the plot is entering territory that you don't want to jump into...if you think the updates are too scarce or that certain story elements just aren't your thing...you may decide to stop reading. You might want to leave and find another writer that is more to your liking. And that is totally ok with me and with the authors that you've supported in the past. But...if you decide that their story is no longer an enjoyable read for you and you want to move on...then, just move on. Go away. Leave. It's alright. Just click on something else. No harm, no foul. Follow whatever story makes you happy. Some people act as if they can't do that. If you actually take the time to sit down and type out an angry email or post a nasty comment to specifically tell an author that you will no longer be reading their work because it's not what YOU want to read? Yes! I, personally, find that to be extremely rude, and you should stop thinking so much of yourself. Just leave. Why are you making an announcement about it? Why the big production? A reader that does this usually has one of three major motivations. One...they're trying to deliberately hurt the feelings of the author writing the story, and is just being cruel for the sake of feeling important. Two...they're hoping other people will see it and agree and feel empowered by damaging your story and your reputation as a whole. Or three...it's an empty threat that was made to emotionally manipulate you into writing everything their way instead of bringing your own personal genius to the written word the way that you intended from the very beginning. Neither one of these scenarios will make you look like anything other than a narcissist and a bully...so don't do it. There is content on the internet that you see every single day that you don't like, and you don't care for...but you don't feel the need to make some grandiose comment about every single one of them, do you? Why do it for THIS particular author? Why are you suddenly a 'warrior' for content that you don't agree with or enjoy? If you really care about the stories you read, and the authors that created them for your entertainment, then show your support for their hard work, and offer constructive criticism whenever you feel they give you less than 100% of their true effort. Don't INSULT them! And don't think that your departure from their readership is going to have some major impact on their fanbase that it didn't earn and doesn't deserve. That's your ego talking, and nobody asked you to walk away. There's the door. Exit of your own free will. We don't need to hear about it. Chances are, you never gave us any real love or support to begin with. No feedback at all. No comments. No emails. No word of mouth promotion. Nothing. So if your 'first' email to me is, "I'm not reading your stories any more!" My first reaction is probably going to be, "I didn't know you were reading my stories in the first place. Who are you, again???" What have I lost? Honestly. Just stop reading. It's ok if you don't like a certain story. Nobody is faulting you for that. But it is an act of cruelty to go out of your way to shame an author just because a story isn't what you wanted it to be. Or because it takes too long to update. Or because the characters don't follow your idea of how they 'should' act and react to what's going on. I stand up for any author that has had to hear comments like these, and will continue to do so for as long as I'm alive. This isn't easy, writing and exposing your true feelings for a judgmental audience. Please, remember that. If any of you want a story done your way...then YOU write it. That's what I did in the beginning. Now you're reading writing tips from ME! Hehehe, and I'm a complete idiot. Trust me! So what does that tell you? Rule #4 - Know your biases! One of the elements that is most endearing about well-written stories like the ones on GayAuthors, is the fact that we can all put ourselves into the stories and identify with the main characters and relate to the situations being put on display. We can reminisce over what it was like to be in that same position, to get that first kiss, or to experience those nervous jitters, or re-live that first time walking into a gay bar. The best stories take us back to moments when everything was so exciting and sweet...and we tend to personalize those moments and make them our own. I do it all the time. However, again...it's important to remember that it is NOT an author's job to write your life story. Writer's don't know you, personally. They weren't hired or contracted to build your fantasy and base it solely on your personality. Maybe you shared a similar experience, and that grips your heart and makes the reading all the more enjoyable, but don't burden the writers you love with the task of writing your personal fiction. Please don't. They are telling things from their perspective, and delivering a message that they understand as an individual. It's their story. So if the storytelling deviates from 'what would *I* do in this situation?' that doesn't mean that the story is unrealistic or wrong or lacking. I know that it's natural to connect with a story or a character and really WANT to take control and have your own personal motivations, ideas, and desires, take over and guide the story in a certain direction. I get that. It's flattering. But if you're giving serious criticism on a story or a character or a certain plot point...you have to make an effort to understand and recognize your own biases in your perspective sometimes. You need a slight disconnect. It's essential in how your comments are conveyed by other people. I think "Billy Chase" is the one story where I've had the most trouble with this issue. And while I am HONORED that readers invest so much love and effort and can relate to what's going on...I have spent years trying to defend the poor kid and reminding people that it's JUST a fictional character and that the plot points and story arcs that I make are done for the sake of conflict and drama. It's IMPOSSIBLE to please every reader that comes across that story, and I understand that. But people that I've talked to in my emails have severe biases that factor in to how they view the series. And sometimes it's just not fair to fault the story itself for something that is so personal to that specific critic. I have to keep that in mind when I post new chapters, because Billy Chase was me when I was a 15 year old kid in the 90s. Shy, insecure, secretive, HORNY, hehehe! This is MY story, dangit! This is who I was back then. It's the foundation of who I am now. But not everybody grew up the same way I did. Some grew up in an earlier time, some are currently going through high school right now. Some grew up in a major metropolitan city like I did, and some grew up in a small rural area in the Bible belt of America. Our experiences are different. And since I'm the one piloting this plane...you'll just have to ride with me and hope for the best. Readers personalize the "Billy" character and then get frustrated and angry when he does something that they wouldn't do themselves. Again...that's not fair to us as writers. We're not responsible for rewriting someone else's history. If they are so fired up about it, then they can sit behind a keyboard tell their own story. Don't let that get you down. K? Some people have been cheated on in a relationship, some people have made bad decisions while they were drunk, some people have had issues with drugs, or suffered through physical or sexual abuse, or simply have regrets over not going for the boy of their dreams when they had a chance. All of these things factor in towards how they read your story. It's baggage that some critics bring with them, and you just can't satisfy them all. It's insane to even try. They are triggered by certain situations and get flustered and full of rage, or deeply depressed and full of sorrow, and want to make your writing the culprit for making them feel this way. It isn't. That might be an unsolved issue that they need to take up with their therapist. That's not your fault. You're a writer. Take care of your own issues while you're writing. If you have something to say, then say it. And if critics disagree? So be it. You expressed yourself with honesty and integrity. So, by the time they read it, you've already done your job as an author. Be proud. Rule #5 - Don't automatically expect an author to submit to your suggestions or demands just because you make them. I will admit, I have gotten plenty of emails with really GOOD ideas for stories, or for continuations of my own stories, and I was like, "WHOAH!!! That's a damn good idea! I wish I had thought of that!" Hehehe! Because there are a lot of fans and loyal readers that come up with concepts that never even crossed my mind. As writers, some of you guys might even incorporate some of these ideas into your story as time goes along. But don't feel pressured into using every idea that is sent to you. Like I said, you can't please everybody. Don't try. To you creative critics out there, we LOVE to hear your ideas, and I'd never discourage any of you from sending them in to your favorite author. But don't think that just because you hit the 'send' button and your idea is awesome, that an author is going to suddenly shut down their original game plan and follow your new path towards an ending that you're not even aware of yet. That's not how writing works. See...some folks have an idea for a 'scene' or two. Something exciting and provocative and 'wouldn't it be cool if?' scenarios. But, when writing a story, those great ideas need a build up. They have an impact, and consequences, and have to fit into the rest of the plot . I can't speak for all writers, but I, personally, have a master plan in mind from the very beginning. And most times, other ideas, no matter how awesome they may be...don't fit. I'm thinking of my story as a whole, and I only make changes when they fit the narrative. For folks reading the story, they might think ahead and, again...think 'wouldn't it be cool if'? But those ideas only fit a scene or two, and then it skews from my timeline and leads to an ending of their design, not mine. Which defeats the whole purpose of me writing a story of my own in the first place. But who knows? If you think you've got a great idea for your author's project, maybe you'll inspire something great within them. But, if your ideas are far removed from what the author is trying to say or the message that they're trying to convey? It might not happen. If it's a fully fleshed out idea that you think would make for a great story...then take a shot and write it yourself. Don't say that you can't do that, because you already came up with the idea. That's one third of the battle already done. Maybe even HALF! Writing is very personal to most people. It is for me. I need to be connected to every part of it. Every word, every sentence, every phrase and metaphor. So, I may think your idea is fantastic and should be made into a story...it might not fit into my current expression. The story ideas were finished long before you guys got to read them. So those are my five rules for critics that are reviewing and leaving comments on stories. I know that there are a lot of critics really don't mean to be cruel, but honesty doesn't mean brutality. If you think something is terrible, then the writer is going to assume that you know why it was terrible. So let them know your true feelings about it. Write your reviews as if you were talking to them face to face, instead of from behind the anonymous protection of a laptop screen. A true critic gives both positive and negative feedback if necessary, and concentrates on the writing itself without making it personal. Word choice is important, and you might be striking at a very sensitive nerve when you attack a story. So be civil. Have some class. And with a little coaching and true support...the writers you love will get better and better with every chapter or story they put out. That's what you want, isn't it? Give some encouragement when you can. It'll only make things more amazing in the future. Alright! This ends 'Part 1' of this blog post! I hope it resonates with you all and will help out in the future. Don't worry, writers! It's our turn next! Hehehe, and we've got five rules of our own that we need to think about when it comes to criticism! So don't get too comfortable yet. See you next week!
  6. Enna, Kol, and Sparta were taking a peaceful stroll through the streets of Fasola. In the distance, on the horizon, they saw a group of individuals approaching. Sparta and Enna knew that they were never in danger because of the supreme secrecy and difficulty of Fasola magicks. Kol fell to his knees, unable to stand, for Kol knew the group walking towards them. Sparta saw one face and instantly took a knee, Enna followed Sparta's lead and took a knee a second later. Kol, overtaken with the party's elation, could not stand, lift his bowed head, or even raise his eyes to see their faces. Taking mere minutes seemed like years, suddenly Kol felt the gentle touch on his chin, his head being raised up, he dreamed this dream all too often, and now it is finally coming true. "My sweet tree! I told you that we would meet again." Jaric said as tears rolled down his face. "My cool breeze! I have been waiting for this day for so long. Is this a dream or reality?" Kol asked touching the warmth of Jaric's face and hoping that this was real. "I can say," as Jaric cleared his tears to look in Kol's eyes, "without any doubt that this is reality." Jaric lifted Kol off of his knees and gave him a kiss. Not any kiss, but the kiss that only happens when two longing souls are reunited. Some call it fate, others call it true love, but Jaric and Kol call it finding home. Enric dismounted his horse, held out each of his hands for Enna and for Sparta, "Friends, please! Do not kneel before but stand beside me.", as he pulled their hands forcing Enna and Sparta to stand. "How does you body look like Queen Verelle's, yet your voice is that of King Enric's?" Enna asked in confusion. "Since it was here, in Fasola, were the spell was cast, it is here that the spell can be undone. Only here can I be my true self. Here, where my soul matches my voice, no matter what I look like." King Enric stated quite coolly. I hope you enjoyed a preview of my story Draymal. I would love feedback and editing notes to make my story worthy of being published.
  7. I have finished my first novel - I'll Kiss You in the Rain. https://www.gayauthors.org/story/william-king/I39llKissYouintheRain I'll Kiss You in the Rain is a moment in the lives of three young people. Alex, the principal character who narrates the story is a gay teenager who hides his real self until he discovers his best friend is gay. An unexpected encounter with Jake, who is older and more experienced, leads Alex on a voyage of self discovery. No one is perfect, not even the angelic Matty, Alex's best friend, they all have their secrets and it's never going to be easy. If you would like to discuss, comment, ask the author something, then I'm here and listening. If you liked it, hated it, thought something was badly done or well done, maybe you didn't want to say it in a review, well you can say it here. Look forward to hearing from you. William
  8. Hey folks, saw this on Dear Abby column today, so am forwarding it on. DEAR READERS: A group of distinguished psychiatrists, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), needs help from some of you. They need feedback from gay, bisexual or transgender people, many of whom have experienced conflicts with their faith because of who they are attracted to or their gender identity. Many, while attempting "conversion" treatment, experienced great emotional distress, but never considered consulting a mental health professional because they had been discouraged from doing so by their faith community. Knowing the struggles you have experienced could benefit individuals who need help and haven't gotten it. Your input is important. It will give GAP psychiatrists a broader representation of people than they could get from any other source. Thank you in advance for taking part in this important study. The Internet address to send your comments is mary.barber@omh.ny.gov. For those who don't have email access, GAP's mailing address is: P.O. Box 570218, Dallas, TX 75357-0218. In the past, readers have been generous in "telling it like it is," and I hope you will continue because your experiences are important. Your participation may help to effect positive changes in the treatment of patients. -- LOVE, ABBY
  9. I'm new to GA and eager to make a good impression. I have a number of novels and short stories to add, but wanted to introduce myself to this community. As with all 'artists', I'm looking for endless fawning praise and admiration. I'd also appreciate constructive criticism. My regards to all. https://www.gayauthors.org/story/rolandq/sharing
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