Have you heard the legends of the “Cursed Forest of Massachusetts?” Shortly after the birth of America, the small, secluded community of Andonville, Massachusetts, rested on the border of a forest steeped in legend and rumors. People start disappearing, and Abigail loses everything. She wants nothing more than to abandon Andonville and the terrible forest, putting the past and the problems of the city behind her. Fate has other plans, however, and she gets sucked into the mysteries around her.
You can read this short story here.
Goodreads is an interesting Social Media platform. It is surprisingly large considering it is only for readers. As a reader I never found it useful. I don’t understand the point in announcing to the world what I’m reading and how long it took me to read something. I talk about what I’m reading with the people I know and that’s pretty much it. Occasionally I will review something on Goodreads or mark a book “to-read.” As an author, Goodreads is essential for good or ill. Generally, I find the platform from a writer’s perspective to be bitter-sweet. Particularly the review system is bare-bones. Unlike Amazon, Goodreads allows people to put a star rating without a written review. Based on the ratings “Crystal Moon” has received on Goodreads, I get the sense that it is misunderstood. However, without feedback that is conjecture.
“Crystal Moon” is an experimental book, it started with a fun idea that a man was a huge Star Wars fan who became paranoid and convinced his wife was a Dark Lady of the Sith. When I started writing the story I changed the main character’s paranoia about his wife being a Sith to being a witch. The novel was intended to be a quirky, dark comedy for a niche audience. It is, an experiment. It has thriller elements mixed with dark comedy in an Urban Fantasy with a message about the breakdown of communication in marriage. These factors on top of the book being written in journal format make it for a unique audience. It was something I had fun with and I invite the reader to have fun too by not taking the book too seriously.
So, what does this have to do with Goodreads? On the social media site, I’ve been getting lukewarm to disappointing ratings. Frankly, it isn’t surprising due to the reasons I listed above, but here is the catch I do not get feedback from the people who rate the book on Goodreads. Honestly, if you hate it, think my book is poorly written, or there is a glaring plot-hole I missed, I want to know. The same goes for positive reviews too. Do you like a book? Are you going to take the time to rate it? Follow through with a written review. My beta-readers gave valuable feedback on “Crystal Moon” and generally it was positive with some critiques. The irony of this is that “Crystal Moon” is selling decently well despite these ratings. Maybe my targeting is off with the book, maybe people are turned off by the quirky plot or the journal format. If I do not get feedback I do not know.
Another possibility is that people are rating “Crystal Moon” without reading it because it comes up on their “suggested reading” list. Who knows, but while I stand by my book, I do acknowledge it isn’t for everyone, and that it isn’t above criticism. So please, feel free to read it and write a review. It doesn’t have to be glowing, all I ask is that it is thoughtful and constructive. If you enjoy a fun and quirky light read that has heart but doesn’t take itself seriously, take a look at “Crystal Moon” on Amazon here.
No one wants to be judged. There are few absolute statements that are true, and that is one of them. It is our nature to want to be seen and heard as people, not viewed through the lens of our mistakes or differences. We all know mistakes and bad things are a part of the human experience. There is a difference though between judging a person in a condemning way, and noticing a destructive behavior and mentioning it to that person. As much as we don’t like to be judged, people also don’t like seeing their loved ones commit to destructive behaviors.
Ever notice that those who complain about certain behaviors in others are often guilty of it themselves? I can certainly raise my hand for that one. After all, this post is directed at me as much as anyone. The same thing applies to “Don’t judge me!” How many times have we spouted that or complained about judging someone when we are judging others in the same breath.
To compound this issue, constructive criticism of behavioral choices are often confused with judging. You think I’m posting too much political stuff on social media? Judging. You think I shouldn’t smoke as I drive with my kids in the back seat of the car? Judging. You think I should let go of the past because I’m letting bitterness poison my life? Judging. None of these examples are truly judging if the other person said it in gentleness and kindness, with your best interest at heart. To judge someone is no calling out destructive, immature, or unbecoming behavior. Judging someone is to condemn them, to see them as defined by their behavior and that behavior makes them less than you are, or at worst worthy of Hell.
Anymore, it seems that people cannot take criticism without blowing it off as “you are just judging me!” Certainly, people can be judgmental over the examples I listed above, and context must always be considered. The issue I take is that most people are all too ready to assume intent or get defensive when we can all learn something. If a loved one mentions we should maybe try a different approach, it isn’t necessarily a judgement, it might just be what we need to hear.
The Tolkien era of Fantasy had brought us villains who were evil for the sake of evil. Their motives were pretty much they wanted to destroy the world because they were evil and nothing more was really known about these antagonists. That was the point, they represented the force of evil more than being individual characters with motives. In a few stories this works, but now there is a call for more depth to the villains of the stories. Generally, now there are antagonists with motives and backstories, and just like reality these people tend to not see themselves as evil but as saviors.
History is rife with horrible rulers of both nations and organizations. Some of these people were like Sauron who simply wanted to dominate others without sympathy or empathy for anyone else. Others though were more like Darth Vader, horrible people who saw themselves as protectors or necessary such as Valad The Impaler.
How often do we do things that are wrong and justify it in our minds? Taking that line of thought further, how often do we glorify our ideological positions while demonizing the “other” side? Sure we may not be killing anyone or desiring to, but isn’t that a similar train of thought that these evil people in history and fiction acted on? I’m not saying everyone who dug in their heels and stood up for their convictions is akin to a villain, but just that it is easy to continue down the rabbit trail and become so blinded by ideology empathy no longer remains. This is especially common in political spheres from 2015 to present in America.
Certainly, there are things we all disagree with. That is okay, in fact it is necessary for anyone who has a spec of critical thinking and morality. With the advent of the internet it is becoming easier to live in an echo chamber and grow angrier at those who are outside of your thought circle. Hope is only found in those who agree with you and me, while despair and the end of the world comes in the form of those that dare think differently. To me, it looks like there is less nuance in our culture than there was even ten years ago. People are ready to sever ties with friends and even family because of differing viewpoints because their beliefs are “dangerous.” With this mentality, called Tribalism, which I addressed in previous blogs, it is only opening the door for a real evil to rise to power. As freedoms erode the people will cheer that person on because “their” person was in power, not the “other” side. Of course, the opposite group will do everything they can to oppose the person in power, but perhaps it won’t be enough. This is hypothetical, and not a subtle dig at the current president or any before him. I know that some already view him in this light, but that isn’t what I am referencing. In an environment where people are looking to be offended or read into their own bias, I feel that is necessary to state.
Fiction is meant to teach us. To help us ponder our own actions as well as the happenings within our own culture. Let us actually implement the lessons from history and fiction, lest we create a monstrous world we cannot undo.
Do you love Urban Fantasy but grew tired of the overused tropes of love triangles and angst-filled teens? You can download it on Amazon here.