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Bullies
RCGravelle
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:37 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


I'm withdrawing my stories from BookCountry. The Authonomy bullies have pretty much taken BookCountry over. Here's my parting challenge to a bunch of "editors" who are great at dishing it out but not taking criticism: edit the first 600 words of Poe's Eureka. What do you think of the plot? Ooh, real exciting, isn't it? Agent ready? Sure, why not? It's about the whole universe! If that doesn't capture attention...well, ain't much else, is there? What do you think of the dialogue? Boring? (Hint: Perhaps NONEXISTENT. Kind of like the plot). 

Find the part where Poe predicts the Big Bang theory. Go ahead. Hmmm....It must be here somewhere. Oops, no. Not in the first 125 words. I'm bored.

By the way, what DOES it mean to "turtle" a backpack? When WIP's get 5 superstar nibs for their wildly inaccurate characterizations, unrealistic scenarios, and unexplained British terminology for a probable American audience, well, it's obviously about something beyond merit.

BookCountry used to be reasonable, inclusive, representative, fun, informative, helpful, kind and tough. It was in good hands, but the Authonomygrants want things EXACTLY as they were RIGHT NOW on Authonomy. 

And I would still like a Faux Editor to explain why a multi-page scientific discourse on the classification of whales is great literature. Or if you want to go British Isles--what in God's name would you butchers do to Molly Bloom's internal monologue!? Or the first 600 words of THAT tome? Agent ready? Comment on plot--dialogue--central problem/conflict. Hmmm...Yeah, where ARE those story elements, anyway? And what on earth does Leopold Bloom's trip to the outhouse have to do with Minotaurs and Cyclopes!? Oh wait, it's not in the first 600 words. Oops, my bad.

Jeepers, maybe that's why Joyce re-wrote that sucker 25 times. Too bad he didn't have a Faux editor.

I could go on, but my frustration has no plot, so...Yeah, I'm angry. But instead of dismissing me, stop and consider whether there's some justification for my feeling that the tone of BC has become pretty oppressive since the Great Authonomygration.

 

--edited by RCGravelle on 9/12/2015, 9:28 PM--


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:43 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Hi, RC.

 

I'm sorry to hear of this. Have you contacted Lucy Silag about the bullying? That sort of behavior is not tolerable here. She should be notified that you're feeling bullied here. She'll want to know.


RCGravelle
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:52 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


It's more of a pervasive bullying. It's a tone of "I have to be wildly excited in 600 words or this writing is crap" mentality. And have you been reading the comments directed AT Lucy? It's one thing to suggest changes and ways to improve the site, but it's more of a demand by several of the Authonomygrants. Some have even accused her of being non-responsive ("Let's see if Lucy finally answers my e-mail. It's already been 2 weeks" and comments along those lines.) I haven't read anything on here, including your work, Amber, that deserves to be trashed. But I've had mine pretty roundly trashed by people who demand I excite them and explain EVERYTHING but not TOO MUCH in AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE and DEVELOP MORE and what is this detail even doing here, but "I'm not going to read any more because I'm bored." Are they? Well, I treasure the very first review I got from a former British member who was NOT an Authonomite, who loved my story, suggested improvements, read it again, read 4 chapters instead of half a chapter, and knew what the story meant and what was going on. Her--NOT a bully. I hope this clarifies.
Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:58 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Yes, that clarifies. And I know what you mean--I've noticed a few snide comments that I frowned at. A few Authonimites are smashing Book Country and I don't care for it.

 

I'm sorry that you've been targeted. You might join Scribophile or WriteOn. They're pretty active sites.



RCGravelle
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 9:03 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Thanks, Amber. I think you mentioned one of them a month or so ago--about it costing a little but being worthwhile, maybe? Good luck to you. I know you've poured your heart and soul into your work.
Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 9:48 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Thanks, RC. Good luck to you, too.

 

Scribophile is the site I mentioned before--It's full of talented writers and active critiquers. You can join for free, but to receive full benefits you need to buy a Premium Membership--$65 dollars a year or $5 dollars a week, if I'm remembering correctly.

--edited by Amber J. Wolfe on 9/12/2015, 9:51 PM--


Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015 4:42 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi Renee,


I'm so sad to read this post, especially the part about taking your work down, as I've enjoyed reading it and following you as you move forward with each project!

 

I'll send you an email so that we can chat more about this. I'm not sure I know the full story.

 

Lucy


lilmerlin
Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 8:56 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 32


I think it's wrong to say all Authonomites are bullies or that we are rude and want to take BC over. But in general ppl from Authonomy have been a very active bunch - which I liked as it helped me learn and improve. And I learned a lot more through threads than I sometimes out of general reviews. Yes, some threads were pretty heavy - my beginning was torn apart when I first went to the FAUX EDITORS thread - but it was worth it. A. I first watched what was happening before I posted my work there so I knew what to expect and B. the harsh criticsm made me re-think areas. Now that doesn't mean I accepted everything as the only truth, but it made me fiddle with certain areas. Part I reverted to what it was before again, others things did make enough sense to apply changes. It's still my MS and I take what I like and turn a deaf ear to what not. I learned early that I was way to sensitive for the writing industry so in a way this has helped me to develop the thick skin I will need. Editors or agents won't tell me in as many words, but the no or no response isn't feeling any better - at least here I got some input no matter how "nasty" it sounds in first place - it's "faux" so who cares. Fact is that some comments I got from regular readers where the similar - slow to build up, why don't you tell earlier blablabla. Great YA thread I had someone telling me it was crab because she was wasting her time figuring out what was going on and she couldn't do that next to her own life. Well, thanks for telling me, but honestly - unless you read further you won't and if you don't have the patience - so be it! Gosh - if I wouldn't have patience I would have never finished Tolkien! Fact is, there are people who like a fast read and want to know it all right away - and others are the slow kind who like to be surprised. If I get comments like you got, I know they are not my target audience and ignore them. Alas it gets me thinking - which it did - on how I could win those over as well... I partly did. I got a tiny thumbs up later for twirking it a bit and starting at a different point. Still not sure I will in the end, but it was a great writing experience and gave me a different perspective... I think it's all about being open and not taking it personal. It has to be clear that not everybody will like our babies - or we would all be published already!

Just my two cents. But ignore me, because I am one of those Authono-Mites...


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 1:32 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


@lilmerlin: We didn't mean all Authonomites are bullies--we just meant that a few have been leaving some snide comments bashing Book Country. The bulk of you have been really nice, and others frustrated with the site's layout, which is understandable. We in no way meant to imply that every Authonomite is being rude. I apologize if that's the way it came across. There was one Authonomite who wrote I hate this place after experiencing technical difficulties with the Online Editor.

 

I understand his frustration--the Editor could really be tweaked to become more user friendly, but he didn't have to be so mean about it.

 

That is what we're talking about. Sorry if we offended.

 

Amber


D'Estaing
Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 8:56 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95


Since the Faux Editors thread is mentioned here several times in a fairly condemnatory manner, I think it's probably right that I offer some sort of defence to the accusations levelled above:

 

First off - no-one wants to drive anyone from BookCountry. I think it's very sad if you do decide to withdraw, and I think you should  reconsider what seems to be an emotional rather than considered response.

 

The tone of some Authonomites who have come here to try out the site has been ah... less than reverential, shall we say. That might have come across as arrogant, or bullying but I'm sure it wasn't intended like that. The truth is that the closing of Authonomy has caused a lot of people a fair degree of psychological trauma. It's been a life-support system for many people nurturing a life-long held dream, and in the course of many on-line hours invested in the site a community of real and internet friends developed who both supported and criticised each other's work, and also socialised generally. Suddenly HC announced that the entire support network will be arbitrarily removed at the click of a switch. People were anxious and upset and came to BC looking for alternatives that would offer the same experience. They haven't found it, because Authonomy was fairly unique, but I personally think that of all the possible sites suggested as alternatives, BookCountry is the closest match in ethos, format and scale. Unfortunately, as even Lucy would admit, there are a few glitches. Many people had difficulty uploading work, some had problems logging in, others found the forum organisation incomprehensible compared to what they were used to. I think I can fairly safely say that none of those who had insurmountable problems are still here, so those ex-Authonomy people still here are those who recognise the site's failings, but also perhaps have a longer term view. We all have a few suggestions as to what we think would make the site work a little more smoothly. The site can surely only prosper and flourish if the users feel free to make those suggestions. But I'd agree that bad manners is just poor form.

 

Moving on to the specific criticisms of the Faux Editors thread:

 

You've never levelled any of the criticisms you've made here to me personally, so that I could perhaps address them. I've only just been made aware of this post several weeks after it was made, hence I'm only now replying.

Of the editors themselves:

 

 You say "a bunch of "editors" who are great at dishing it out but not taking criticism". Unfortunately I haven't had the pleasure of a critique from you of my book posted here, "Evenrood". I'd welcome it. You did give my fellow editor Tim Sharman a review of his book "Bad Napkin" which was thorough, detailed, clear, lengthy and useful, to which he responded with gratitude. Unless there is something I'm unaware of, I don't see any basis for this accusation.


Of the philosophy behind the thread (that of taking the first 600 words of an authors work in isolation):

 

You mention Poe's "Eureka". With respect, this is a non-fictional prose poem published in 1848 by an already well-established author at the end of his life. It also happened to be widely ridiculed at the time of its publication. If an unknown author submitted it to an agent tomorrow, would it get published? I can almost definitively assert that it wouldn't.

 

You also mention Joyce. Would Joyce get published today? Not unless he landed on the desk of a particularly perceptive publisher with plenty of money. Is this a good thing? Undoubtedly not, for the sake of world literature. Is it almost certainly true that no modern publisher would take the chance on a 265,000 word stream-of-consciousness day-in-the-life epic allusion to Homer's Odyssey? Yes.

The next Edgar Allen Poe or James Joyce may be considering submitting to the Faux Agents thread here on BookCountry. If they do, I'd trust my own judgement in being able to see beyond the restrictive criteria you mention (which I've never stipulated as being necessary - there is no absolute recipe for a good beginning of a book to my mind, just good writing), and give them the benefit of the doubt. But perhaps I would miss it. Perhaps I'd say, clearly and concisely, why I think an agent would reject their work (which is all I promise to opine on). The point is that both Poe and Joyce persevered (you say yourself Joyce rewrote Ulysses 25 times). That's what published authors do - they persevere, in the face of all criticism. You need a thick skin, and you need to be able to take criticism, glean from it what is useful, and discard the rest without rancour or distress, if you want to succeed. That's another thing that the Faux Agents thread does. It doesn't claim to be your friend. The idea is you get a dispassionate, industry standard review, but with the crucial difference that, if they issue a rejection slip, the Faux Editors at least tell you why.

 

All of this anger I could perhaps understand if you'd actually submitted some work to the Faux Editors thread and had a very critical review thereon. But I can't see any evidence for it and I don't remember the book, so I don't see where this emotional response (and the accusation of bullying) stems from.

 

What you say of BookCountry, that it is "reasonable, inclusive, representative, fun, informative, helpful, kind and tough" are exactly the kinds of descriptors that I'd like to think people will append to the Faux Editors thread, and that indeed many BookCountry regulars already have done.

If you'd like a professional critique of your first chapter, then contact me either here, or privately at editor@editorial.ie.

--edited by D'Estaing on 9/30/2015, 4:27 AM--


RCGravelle
Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015 6:07 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Nobody said or implied "all." I assume by now there are dozens of Authonomy members on BC, and my comments were specific and expressing a point of view in opposition to an arrogance that was surly and demanding and, I'm sure, limited to a few vocal people. You've indicated you signed up on BC hoping for an experience like the Authonomy one, and some Authonomygrants made aggressive expressions and demands that interfaces and other technical issues be exactly like the ones in the dear old homeland, in the process insulting the attentiveness or lack thereof of the director of the site--crass and ill-mannered, not to mention counterproductive. Kind of like if I insulted the secretary or the custodian at my school; you don't do yourself a favor with that sort of discourse.

So I'm being labelled an emotional, thin-skinned, defensive person. By responses that, if you read what you wrote are--well, emotional, defensive, and thin-skinned. Pot calling the kettle black, for sure. Think about it. How well do you know me to draw these conclusions? I'll give you some food for thought...the idea of throwing the "thin skinned" label at a writer is redundant, don't you think? Thin-skinned people are sensitive and empathetic. Slings and arrows that hurt other people are felt as intensely as slings and arrows that hurt oneself. I don't see that as a bad thing. Likewise for "emotional." Why is it bad to have emotions? Don't they lead to emotional responses? Are you so dichotomized that "reasonable/rational" is in opposition to "thin-skinned/emotional" and you're making a judgment call that one must win and the worthy winner is the former? You guys are clearly well-versed in literature. I urge you to consider Yeats's "Crazy Jane," who argued that we are NOT dichotomous, but rather, integrated, and our material and emotional/spiritual selves are one, not the dichotomized either/or that requires a winner and a loser. So go ahead and put me in the "loser" column; I'll still agree with Crazy Jane.

Having said that, let me tell you something about this proudly thin-skinned person you've branded as "emotional." I have two master's degrees--the more challenging one in English. I got through the brutality of oral exams and thesis writing, editing, revising, perfecting. This thin-skinned person has spent a lot of years teaching some tough cookies--soldiers, jailbirds, and mostly, urban high school kids. I am the only out gay teacher in my district. Do you think that was easy?!

Emotional, thin-skinned people adapt as we need to. But I will not devalue those aspects of myself or of you, though you may cling to the thoroughly Western (and yes, quintessentially male) argument as to the superiority of materialistic "rationality." Might makes right. (Criticism is only good if it's harsh.)

 

 

--edited by RCGravelle on 10/1/2015, 6:08 PM--


RCGravelle
Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015 6:22 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


One more thing--as D'Estaing noted on his behalf--"some sort of defense." I have accepted, with all the grace you rush to attribute to Sharman lest that meanie Gravelle think ill of him, some excellent feedback on BC that has made me change a lot of my writing. And if Sharman wants to disregard my considered advice from the point of view of someone with a LOT of experience with YA lit, well--his problem, not mine. I see a lot of common ground with D'Estaing on an understanding that writing styles that used to be accepted aren't any more. That's my whole point. I'm a high school librarian and a former college English instructor. I've also been around a few decades. I strongly believe the entire landscape of literacy is in a disastrous state of dysfunction. The idea that the first 600 words has to adhere to a Scylla and Charybdis of marketability is part of that dysfunction. You have free speech and it's all voluntary, so despite my feeling about that, I yield to your absolute right to create that thread and for BC writers to get what they can out of it. However, I think it does a disservice to the actual worth that DOES sometimes emerge with patience, and for a minute, D'Estaing, I thought you and I almost agreed on that in your comments. 

The winners have made the rules of publishing. They too are dysfunctional. I could have gone 600 wordy on Sharman's work, but I chose to accept the good in it as well as the disastrously askew, and I think the latter is the sole focus of the 600 word plan.

Nibble away. I'm gonna just recuse myself and go be emotional somewhere.


RCGravelle
Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015 8:19 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


RE: Joyce. His re-writing Ulysses over and over didn't make it good. That's erroneous thinking. So don't use THAT as evidence to support the Faux Approach.
Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 12:38 AM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Hey, guys. It's getting a little hot under the collar in here. Please don't get ugly with each other. I feel there's been misunderstanding on both ends.

 

RC isn't targeting Authonomites as a whole--she was expressing upset at the mean comments of a few, not all of them.

 

I'm going to contact Lucy about maybe locking this thread. It seems like it can become explosive if the wrong eyes fall on it.

 

Show respect. Don't respond in anger.

 

Amber


D'Estaing
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 2:38 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95


@Amber - That's your call, Amber (on locking the thread) but if these things are left to fester I think it does the forum and the site generally a disservice. Nobody's insulting anyone (yet!) and I think we're all adults enough to have differences of opinion. While they may not necessarily be resolved (that's what differences of opinion are "for"), by discussing them we might come to a point where we can agree that they are at least respected.

 

@ RCG - I do think I'm having a conversation with you while not knowing all of the facts. You've obviously taken offence to something that Tim wrote, which I can't see (presumably because it's a private message). With respect, I'd say that's a private matter between the two of you. It didn't happen on the Faux Editors thread, and it's unfair to condemn that thread for something that happened elsewhere. If I saw altercation arising on the Faux Editors thread I'd be fairly swift in stamping it out. It's meant to be helpful, not abusive.

 

Similarly, with your other main point, that of ex-Authonomy members being aggressively dogmatic about what they want BookCountry to be, I'd agree with you. I can only reiterate that many people were upset about Authonomy closing, and were probably posting in haste without due consideration for both this site, and the people already using it. If someone breezes into a pub full of contented regulars and announces loudly that the beer is crap and the decor sucks, they're not likely to make many friends, either amongst the regulars, or with the landlord. But I don't see that it's my responsibility to apologise for them beyond the vague call for some empathy at a difficult time that I've already made. Once again, I don't see conflating the work of the Faux Editors thread with the behaviour of some (other) ex-Authonomites fair or reasonable.

 

You posted "Nobody said or implied "all."". But in your initial post  you used the phrases "The Authonomy bullies", and "the Authonomygrants". At no point did you qualify that with a "some of". Rather than, by implication, tarring all ex-Authonomy people with the same brush, I think it would be helpful if you narrowed down your accusations of improper behaviour to specific instances and specific people, if you want to be bothered calling people out on such things. Personally, when I see bad manners in a forum, I tend to skip it. After all, if Lucy had an issue with how people were addressing her, I'm sure she's well able to deal with it.

 

When I said "You need a thick skin", I wasn't specifying you personally. Perhaps that would have been clearer if I had said "One needs a thick skin". Apologies for any confusion. I'd totally agree that a writer needs to be perhaps more emotionally open than some, if they are to convincingly convey emotions in their work. As a good example, I'd see writers as being particularly empathetic as to how distressed people were about Authonomy, a writers' site, closing.

 

And lastly on the Faux Editors thread itself:

 

Yes, you posted specifically, on that thread on several early occasions, that you weren't sure about the "first 600 words" approach, and you've reiterated that concern since, here, quite aggressively. That's your right. I disagree with you. Most people on this site, and indeed most other writing sites, are not in the business of writing highbrow literary fiction like Poe and Joyce. They're writing books they hope will have some commercial appeal (vampires, romance, sci-fi). For this kind of work, analysis of the first 600 words can give one a good approximation of whether they have mastered the basic skills of publishable writing. I think it's a fascinating snapshot, and many people here at BookCountry seem to agree. The thread has the most hits per day of any thread on BookCountry, so while I respect your opinion, I'll have to disagree. However, I think you and I do have a common ground, in that I also recognise the limits of the approach. If some modern "Ulysses" landed on the Faux Editors desk, I'd be intrigued to see myself what my reaction to it would be. Would I have the editorial perception to recognise greatness when I saw it? I've no idea, but I would welcome the chance to find out. As I said, my editorial approach is that I don't believe there are many "rules" about writing that can't be broken in the right context, but you'd have to have a good reason to express yourself in a way that conflicted with generally accepted best practice. Many of the "gatekeepers" to the publishing industry, sadly, don't even have that flexibility. And fundamentally, of course, you can ignore the thread if you so choose. I get the impression you see it as a specific example of a wider malaise. That's a shame, but not something I can really do much about.

 

So. Are my comments defensive? Well, yes, obviously: I'm mounting a defence of the thread. Emotional? No, not at all, and I hope that's quite clear.

 

Regards.

 

D'Estaing.

 

 

--edited by D'Estaing on 10/2/2015, 2:43 AM--


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 2:53 AM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Heated discussion can be good, I agree. And it's ultimately Lucy's decision whether the thread is locked or not. I suggested she keep an eye on it, to make sure it doesn't become too heated.

 

I'm not going to contribute to the discussion, but I'll be reading in the background. Defending one's view isn't a bad thing, just make certain it doesn't come across as a stab to the other person.

 

Amber


RCGravelle
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 7:29 AM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


I can live with D'Estaing's comments. Tim wrote an unfair public critique of my work in the 600 words vein. That was the last straw. I removed all my work, including the helpful and encouraging and try-this comments. Like all things, publishing is complicated, and I think D'Estaing and I are both in some way right. Even as we disagree, I think our perceptions are on both sides truths in a complex realm. Thanks for the respectful reply. I too am sorry if all was taken when I should have said a few.
Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 2:20 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi everyone--I am here and listening. Let me know if you need me!

 

 


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 3:17 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


RC, D'Estaing, I'm glad you're conducting this discussion as adults. Too often threads like this can escalate into a full-out jab fest. That's why I was concerned.

 

If the conversation continues in a similar vein, I'm sure everything will remain calm.

 

Amber


Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 3:56 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


This is my version of the Friday Accountability group. I haven't participated in the last few weeks, I've been freaked out by some health issues (which seem to be nothing after all), I've been working on my illustration (I love my characterization of Sly, worry that he doesn't look enough of a runt), and, most of all, I haven't gotten to reading all of the Faux Editors which is the basis for many of these comments. 

.

Here's what I have to say, not having read the source material: All critiques are a point of view. On a six-hundred word sample, that point of view is dealing with a limited understanding of your goals. Comments in regard to agents' expectations are valid, in that sense. If you disagree (I can't judge the tone of the delivery, having yet to read the entirety of the thread), ignore what you're told and continue on your merry way. I do it all the time. 

.

Nothing to get excited about here. If you believe your way is the right way (for you and your project), that is something to be glad over. That is a wonderful place to be. When, against drubs, you can defend your choices, you can explain your problematic stance,  you are a winner at this game whether you make money off it or not.

.

If your goal is to make a return on your labors, I salute you for your optimism. I sympathize with you for your delusions. Please yourself, foremost. 

 

--edited by Mimi Speike on 10/2/2015, 4:11 PM--


RCGravelle
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 7:10 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Mimi, I agree but would expand what you say. I think if you click on a WIP to review it and hate it so much you have nothing good to say about it and your review starts out "The intro. was so dull I could barely get through the first paragraph"--then DON'T review it at all. It's not enough to say that people should just accept destructive critiquing and "continue on your merry way." The same comment needs to be directed to people who can only leave destructive, negative comments. If you've read anything I've posted as a WIP or a comment on a thread, you know I can't be so bad that NOTHING GOOD can be said about my writing. Yet that is what has prompted this. There has been one time only that I found a WIP so difficult I couldn't find anything good in it. There's A LOT I don't understand, don't enjoy, don't appreciate...and without a word of critique, I go on my merry way. The burden of ignoring what you don't understand or like is ALSO on people looking for WIP's to review.
D'Estaing
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 7:36 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95


I'd agree with that. If you can make no personal connection with a work at all, then it's better to politely decline to comment on the grounds that "it's not your genre", or equivalent, rather than take it to task. An unrelentingly critical review of someone's work doesn't do either reviewer or reviewee much good. Of course, the challenge of being a Faux Editor is that you have been asked to comment. The onus is then on you to find something positive in the work while retaining your editorial credibility. Only twice have I been stumped (not on BookCountry, I hasten to add). When I found myself in those circumstances I found that a bit of humour goes a long way to leaven the bitter pill of criticism.
RCGravelle
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 8:16 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Humor thwarts a lot of ill will, I would agree. And Mimi, I love your attitude as you've expressed it on this and other threads--write for yourself. We're not all going to have the dream. Most of us aren't. When I've been "this close" to giving up on my own opus (and I know you have a few too, Mimi), my wife says, "Write it for me because I LOVE it." So that's what I'm doing. The opus-in-question got some positive comments on the Authonomy of 5 years ago. And there were helpful criticisms too. My experience was that critiques were more freeform on Authonomy than on BC. On BC, I chose the criteria to be reviewed (and that structure is a great feature of BC, in my opinion), and I got honest, helpful reviews. Not all glowing praise, but good comments about what worked and what didn't, and some really encouraging nudges for aspects that I DIDN'T think were the best ones but someone else DID. Likewise when you think something is working but it really ISN'T.

 It's easy to take and leave a critique when it addresses the good and bad of a manuscript. Very few people end up on Authonomy or BC or Scribophile or...without having SOME skill and SOME redeem-ability and SOME desire for improvement. 


D'Estaing
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 8:34 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95


@ RCG - so we'll see your opening on the Faux Editors thread imminently then, I trust...
RCGravelle
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 8:34 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


There has been a bit of back and forth about empathy and self-defense. D'Estaing and I both have bantered these very human tendencies about. So in the D'Estaing manner of needing to mount a defense--I too must. I do feel a little poked at, accused maybe, of lacking empathy for the displaced Authonomy writers; that implication is pretty clear, and I think that was an unfair jab. People who know me say empathy is actually something I have a lot of, so oblique aspersions from people I don't know feel a little weird. The comment might even be a little "unreasonable."

So I would like to not be on either end of insults. I'm going to ignore the Faux editors thread. And for what it's worth, I can see the value of the thread as a gauge of agent-readiness and marketability. It's really the system that has created this narrowness of worth I don't agree with. But it's today's reality, and within that, D'Estaing has the skill to be helpful. 

I prefer the established BC system of choosing criteria. And if I EVER post anything again, I would hope any BC member--former Authonomy member or not--would have the courtesy not to review my work if he can do nothing but trash it.

 


RCGravelle
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 8:37 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Ha Ha. No, thanks anyway. I suspect you're a sharp editor, but I'm in the process of making my middle-aged peace with shattered dreams and doing exactly what I said--writing for my wife. I might sometime post some of my newspaper columns because the publisher of my local paper DOES like my writing. If I do, they can be read and enjoyed but not for critique--they're a done deal.
Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 9:22 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


I have indeed thought about giving up, but not seriously, and not for long. I had to decide how much of the advice I got I was willing to use. The answer: not a whole lot. No, that ain't right. I took a lot of that advice, concerning ease of readability, but my solutions have gone off the rails way more than the original. When I thought of giving up, it was because I couldn't see how to reconcile the very different tones of what is now book three, which I wrote first, and what is now book two. One is quite dark, the other quite fairy-tale. I have nudged both toward a central treatment that I think solves my problem. That big concern made me put the story aside for years at a time. 

.

I don't expect Sly to go much of anywhere. I am certainly writing for myself. And having a hell of a good time. Except when I'm not. We all know how that goes.

.

My project for the weekend is to read through the 600-word thread, and to get back on Amber's book. And to draw a bug or two for Sly to be fascinated with (for my Sly - Poem, which will be an illustrated book). I've got a field-guide of damn good-looking bugs. I'm searching for facial structures that I can turn into smiles, smirks, etc. I have a fabulous caterpillar, I see a darling face on it, no problem, but my husband tells me what I think is the head is actually the rear end. Crap! How many people will perceive that I have given a creepy-crawlie a smiling butt? I guess I can't take the chance. I'd better put the grin, wink, whatever on the right end.

 

--edited by Mimi Speike on 10/3/2015, 1:42 AM--


Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 10:51 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


When I say, go your merry way, I am of course being flip. What I mean is, your judgment in regard to your conception of your project may be more valid. If you feel strongly about something, don't be talked out of it. On the other hand, if you are aiming for a popular appeal, pay more heed to the advice you get here. I believe the folks on here have a good grasp of the genre market.
RCGravelle
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 7:01 AM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Mimi, you make a lot of sense. And I love your sense of humor. I agree; there IS a lot of help on this site from people with various combinations of experience, talent, and simple differences in perspective. Well put.
RCGravelle
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 7:11 AM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


And THAT is what makes the Faux Editor thread good--the combination of experience, etc., not any show of force that can be measured by numbers, such as number of views. The Faux thread is useful and helpful to those who have wanted a glimpse at the marketability, and I suppose genre-worthiness, of their work. So I would concede that it has merit and worth. But judging anything by numbers is a shady endeavor. I think 50 Shades of Gray is the most unworthy success story in publishing history, but if you measure worth by numbers, then we all should be writing that badly. The numbers game is deceptive. The inherent worth of something, on the other hand, is largely intangible. I think I've made my point and D'Estaing has made his defense and I hope now, the culture of BC with the addition of Authonomy writers can be one of civil discourse and honorable critiquing. And dare I say--people with a sense of the worth of reason and emotion co-existing equally in every one of us?

--edited by RCGravelle on 10/3/2015, 12:36 PM--


T.S.W. Sharman
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 4:21 PM
Joined: 8/22/2015
Posts: 39


RCGravelle wrote:
Tim wrote an unfair public critique of my work in the 600 words vein. 
Unfair: it was certainly a tough set of notes on Four Lives Two Souls, but not unfair in my intent -- or in my opinion. If those notes still existed, people could make up their own minds, and I believe they would find them constructive. As I hope are most of my notes. 

In the 600 words vein: the notes were on the entire first chapter, which I'd guess would be more than 1,200 words. It had no connection to the Faux Editors thread and the notes I post there (other than the book swap originated there.)

However, I apologize to Renee for not sending her my notes privately first, before they went up on the site; and I thank her for the well-considered and detailed review of Bad Napkin.

TSWS


Mimi Speike
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 4:33 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


This is getting very confusing. Is Tim one of the editors? I'd better get to work reading that thread. 

.

As I said, comments on 600 words, agents' expectations notwithstanding, must be taken with a grain of salt.

 


T.S.W. Sharman
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 7:22 PM
Joined: 8/22/2015
Posts: 39


RCGravelle wrote:
If a reviewer can find nothing good or redeemable, he or she should skip that piece of writing. 
 
 
 

Hi Renee,

 

First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for you - anyone who looks at your review of Bad Napkin would reach the same conclusion.  Context, detail, suggestions, catches.  It was one of the most helpful reviews I've ever received, on either BC (3 reviews so far) or HC’s Authonomy (150+ reviews, including a review from the HC Editors.)

 

But I respectfully submit that as beta readers, faux editors, and proto-publishers we should not skip a piece of writing that is made public because we can’t find anything good to say about it. Of course, it hinges on whether notes or reviews are constructive.  In my heart, truly, my intentions are constructive, even if my bedside-manner lacks.

 

‘Constructive’ of course depends on the recipient. My first book was skewered by an editor, rewritten, and then roughly manhandled on GoodReads.  That was painful but constructive. Then my wife told me she “hated” Yard Sale (the first short story published by Pankhearst.)  That dislike was constructive in its own way, though more difficult to digest. Overall, this feedback encouraged and forced me to try harder.  To me, all feedback is constructive, except if it includes ad hominen attacks.

 

That said, I’ve learned something very specific from this experience: that I should share notes that are particularly tough with the writer privately.  Not publicly.  And I apologize for that, Renee.

 

So. Renee, can you please put your work back up.  I will give you notes on one, based on the first chapter at a minimum, and I promise to share those notes with you privately prior to posting.  Will you do that?

 

Best

 

TSWS

--edited by T.S.W. Sharman on 10/3/2015, 7:26 PM--


RCGravelle
Posted: Sunday, October 4, 2015 7:25 AM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


Not a chance, Sharman. But I'm glad you contributed to the discussion. I strongly believe more than one point of view or philosophy, in this case, can be correct. Many people will agree with yours. Some people favor my approach. In the complexity of it all, we're both right. And I still love your cover. But I do have a problem with the logic of your comments. You refer to a short story and a book that were published DESPITE other people deeming them not good enough to be published. Is the point of critiquing and reviewing to help a writer create a publishable and marketable manuscript? (The argument that some don't would be a fallacy of calling on an extreme rarity of cases; most of us DO want to be published.) Your comments lead to this conclusion: The manuscripts were not good enough, yet they were still published. In that case, you've undermined the whole 600-word premise, which is that a work evaluated as unfit for publishing will not be agent-ready, let alone published. That premise is also the driving force behind workshopping in whatever form it takes, BC, Authonomy, or other. So how is it you published two manuscripts that were harshly critiqued? If they really WERE that unfit, then you're lucky. And you've just demonstrated an instance of publishing dysfunction, which ignores logic and honors so much happenstance, nepotism, connections...as well as its other ills, including its total yielding to an impatient, distracted modern audience. "Worth" is really hard to pin down. My reference to Scylla and Charybdis is the best way I can think of to illustrate my perception that publishing criteria are destructively narrow. The only other logical conclusion I can draw from your comments is that you yourself didn't believe the harsh criticisms you received and managed to get your work published--subjecting the novel, at least, to MORE harsh criticism. 

I had four manuscripts posted. I wish instead of reviewing the one you did, you'd looked at one you understood better. By the way, I have changed a lot of the one you read based on a handful of reviews and mostly my own instincts. I can take criticism, but I also know ALL my writing is better than your review, and I can only infer from the logical implications of your comment that you feel the same way about yours.

--edited by RCGravelle on 10/4/2015, 8:43 AM--


T.S.W. Sharman
Posted: Sunday, October 4, 2015 9:42 PM
Joined: 8/22/2015
Posts: 39


RCGravelle wrote:

 

I had four manuscripts posted. I wish instead of reviewing the one you did, you'd looked at one you understood better. By the way, I have changed a lot of the one you read based on a handful of reviews and mostly my own instincts.

 
 

 

 

Let's push the 'reset' button, Renee.  Bring the books back and I'll be constructive and considerate.  I have no interest in lowering the tone, and every interest in making BC work.

 

 

BTW - The Single Gospel (Neil Averitt) was just published by Wipf & Stock, and I had a modest hand in that. It took around 2 years. So I'm over the moon.

--edited by T.S.W. Sharman on 10/4/2015, 9:45 PM--


RCGravelle
Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015 6:08 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55


OK, reset sounds great. I re-posted a story. I like it as it is EXCEPT for the pov problems I've struggled with. I want to know only about POV, and I am truly grateful for advice on that.
 

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