First the triumphs.
I’ve been invited to participate on panels at both Lunacon and the inaugural LI-Con (which, I hope, will rebound again as the I-Con we all knew and loved). I’ll post my schedules as they come into focus. Let it also be said that I am a vocal and money-where-my-mouth-is supporter of my adoptive home town’s bid for the 75th WorldCon: DC in 2017!
I also had a blast at Arisia this past weekend. I posted a few vlog entries on my YouTube channel, which involved figuring out how to post directly from iPhone to YouTube (after I got it all synched up, it wasn’t hard at all). Since posting my last vid, two very surprising things happened there with regards to my work-in-progress, Pitch Ribbons: A Cantata for Four Voices. First, I gave the first public reading of excerpts from the first three chapters, and it seemed to me that people were keeping their keypads in their pockets and listening. Second, I participated in a how-to-pitch-your-novel workshop facilitated by a triumvirate of well-known agents and small-press publishers. They told me I had a strong message and that I should pitch them for-reals once I’ve heard back from my betas and completed the third draft. (Very proud of and humbled by my beta panel — anyone would be: Helen Marshall, Simon Logan, and Vince Liaguno).
So with Mighty Mighty advanced reader copies out to reviewers and a plan to soft-launch it at Lunacon and LI-Con before putting it up on Amazon, it would seem things are looking up for my too-long delayed major foray into the world of speculative fiction authorship. I truly believe they are.
So I can be philosophical about (gasp!) my reputation being impugned on the Web. Still, it’s grating.
Let’s rewind a second. Like I said, I just got back from Arisia. If anyone there thought for a second that I was racist, sexist, or homophobic, I’d have been kicked out of the Westin, if not dropped to the bottom of the Charles River. I don’t think anyone would hurl those accusations at me in public, where people could hear them and friends who actually know me could rise to my defense.
So a day and a half ago I posted a new blog entry in this space: “Seeking a radical, black feminist review of Mighty Mighty”. The headline sounds like a provocation but, if you read the article (after being provoked by the headline), you find out I’m sincere. I think I’ve got some well-drawn characters of both sexes, a spectrum of proclivities, various ethnicities, and of distinct class origins. I don’t believe any of them lapse into stereotype, or at least not for long. They all have arcs. They all change. Just like people.
But I don’t want you to take my word alone for that. I want reviews. And I don’t just want reviews from friendly quarters — that is, other white, het, cis, middle-aged men, particularly ones who also write humorous SF and who are also going to want a blurb from me one of these days. I want to hear from people who don’t know William Freedman from William Shatner and who’d be offended if I didn’t handle the characters with the care that is their due. I want to know what people who don’t have a relationship with me to lose think about my work. And if they say it sucks, that’s fine. I take feedback as a gift. If they really rip Mighty Mighty into shreds, that’s fine with me. It means my next book will be that much better.
Even so, I wouldn’t be making the invitation if I didn’t think this novel held up. I mean, what would be the point?
Funny thing happened with that blog post. This Auctor Lanx Satura blog got more views in the one hour after that post went live than it’s gotten in most months. Even funnier thing: absolutely no comments.
So hundreds of people saw that post, and nobody had anything to say about it.
Now, the reason I know how many people saw it and how many people clicked through to multiple pages is that I monitor the Stats application on my dashboard — like most WordPress bloggers do, I’m sure. That application also tells where these hits are coming from. Some of them were coming from my Facebook personal and author pages, as well as from groups where I announced the new post. And some were coming from Tumblr, one of a number of social media sites I intended to establish an account at in order to promote Mighty Mighty and subsequent works. But a bunch came from something called Plurk, which is apparently a microblogging site used mainly by people living in Taiwan and by trolls around the world who want to talk about you behind your back.
So I established both Tumblr and Plurk accounts, and started clicking on the links that had appeared under the “Referrers” heading of my Stats page. And here’s what I found (I won’t embarrass the individual involved, who obviously prizes her anonymity, by linking to her or referring to her by nom de Web):
ALERT ALERT straight white guy wants a black radical feminist to review his bullshit novel favorably because “it passes the bechdel test” and “women talk about math in it,” explains that he is not misogynistic or racist and that there is “satire” and that he totally has black and woman and gay friends and one time a famous lady novelist yelled at him on the internet and it made him a better person.fascinating, right? you should definitely give this book free publicity for being so not sexist and not racist and having ladies who don’t talk about boys in it.
If you read my original post, maybe you share my sense that she only saw the words she selectively wanted to see. So I called her out, sending her the following note via Plurk:
First of all, thank you, [name]. You’ve driven more traffic to my site in an hour than I’ve gotten in certain whole months. To clarify, I’m not asking for a favorable review, which would be presumptuous to say the least. I’m looking for an *honest* review and, based on your opinion of me at the moment, I’m sure I can count on you for that. So are you up for the challenge?
She responded in the negative, as you could predict, but then she went on to tell her friends:
oh my god so i linked the page about the black radical feminist seeking author on an entirely different (privated!!) social networking site so i could laugh about it with my friends and HE CREATED AN ACCOUNT AND TRIED TO ADD EVERY PERSON ON MY FRIENDSLIST. so fair warning to anyone who wants to link this guy’s blog, he can track links and he’s REALLY FUCKING CREEPY ABOUT IT.
But he wrote a novel that passed the Bechdel Test he can’t be creepy :((((((((
“Really fucking creepy”?
I didn’t try to add every person on her friends list. I didn’t even know they were on her friends list. They were just the ones who visited my site and whom I could identify via my (standard, free, nothing-special) Stats app. Since they read my blog, I think I’m entitled to assume they might want to (at their own discretion) be included in future signals I send out publicly via the internet. But if they really were “EVERY PERSON ON MY FRIENDSLIST” then I feel badly for her: She has only 14 friends.
“Really fucking creepy”?
Maybe I am, but if you’re anonymous, and you take your passive-aggressive acting-out all the way to Taiwan to keep it that way rather than have the guts to post comments on this blog, and you have only 14 friends, you don’t get to be the one to call me that.
For good or ill, I live out loud. I write finance and technology articles as well as genre fiction. I also contract out as an IT management consultant and financial analyst. And I’m a suburban husband, father, and assistant scoutmaster. I try to keep these spheres compartmentalized for purposes of marketing as well as my own sanity, but I use the same name — the one I was born with — for all of them. I have a listed land-line number. Two, in fact. I have over 600 connections on both Facebook and LinkedIn. Some of these are people I’ve added as recently as today, and others I went to kindergarten with. I’m not hiding from anyone, and I have damn little to hide.
But enough about the Troll from Taipei. Fortunately, her opinion doesn’t matter to me. I figure it matters to, at most, 14 others.
Now, as for the people I know in real life from participating in convention programming, their opinion — at least in the aggregate — does matter to me. I shared a link to the controversial blog post in a number of Facebook groups, one of which was for Lunacon. That’s where somebody reported me to Principal Zuckerberg. Credit where it’s due: The group’s moderator (whom I won’t name here because I’m sure she’s catching enough flak) clicked through, looked at the blog post, found nothing wrong with it and replied publicly with the comment:
Not sure why this post was reported, but it *is* genre relevant. And while the headline may not seem appropriate, it is actually an ongoing discussion and issue within SF/F conventions and fandom.
That’s all I’m saying. Let’s talk about it. Out loud. With each other.
I’m not going to go digging too deep around my Stat app anymore. Guess I found out more than I wanted to know. And I don’t want to become a creep.
Admittedly, I’m new to Tumblr and Plurk, but I do have a Reddit account. It’s been dormant, as I haven’t really had a use for it until now. But maybe it’s about time I got it up and running.
So you can Ask Me Anything.